Council of State decries Majority, Minority impasse

The Council of State has decried developments in the current Parliament, noting that a rather “awesome” House was becoming “awful”.

Urgent steps, the Council said, were needed to quell the seeming tension that has engulfed the House since its inauguration on January 7, 2021.

“Parliament is an awesome institution, but unfortunately, it is becoming awful and we have to arrest that situation,” Chairman of the Council, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, said at a meeting with the leadership of the Majority caucus of Parliament in Accra, yesterday.

The meeting was the second in series the Council was holding with factions in Parliament, having held an earlier on with the Minority Leadership bench, last Wednesday, to understand and iron out the differences between the two caucuses, which were hindering the smooth operation of Parliament.

Being held under the auspices of the Standing Committee of the Council, the Speaker of Parliament and his deputies were next to be engaged.

Nana Otuo Siriboe said: “Since the inauguration of the eighth Parliament, we have been fed with not very palatable news from Parliament. There have been a lot of acrimony and confusion and sometimes gotten to fisticuffs.

“These do not reflect well on the nature of Ghana’s Parliament. This is the eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic, and the previous seven Parliaments have performed with a lot of credit, and it is not proper that we should see this enviable record that we have had would go down the drain.”

In the view of the Chairman of the Council, “the country stands to lose a lot if parliamentary work is impaired,” and urged the Majority to open up and share their concerns in scheduled close-door meeting.

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, noted that the image of Ghana’s Parliament was being eroded by events over the past one year, and welcomed the intervention of the Council to find a common ground albeit late in coming.

He said “By our own omissions and commissions, we are bringing down the image of the House. When we all thought that given the standing of the current speaker and my own long stay in Parliament, and the experience that the two of us has gathered between ourselves, we were going to uplift the performance of Parliament but unfortunately, the reverse has been the case.”

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is MP for Suame, said “Whatever we do, Parliament, the bastion of democracy, is being torn into shreds by our own actions and inactions and the earlier we came to this recognition, and the earlier we had a reconstruct of what we have been doing this far until recently, the better it will be for us the actors and our image out there”.

Other Council members present at the meeting were Mr Sam Okudzeto, Mr E.T Mensah and Ms Georgina Theodore Wood. Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin and the Majority whips were also at the meeting. 

With 137 Members each and an independent member, who aligns with the Majority caucus, the House has been in turmoil from its day of inception, when ballot papers were snatched during the election of the Speaker.

On December 20, 2021 MPs engaged in fisticuffs when the First Deputy Speaker, presiding at the time, decided to relinquish the seat to the Second Deputy in order to cast a vote in motion.

The motion was on whether or not the controversial Electronic Transactions Bill (E-Levy) should be taken under a certificate of urgency.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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