Haruna Iddrisu: Brawl in Parliament was to preserve democratic values

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, has said that the violence that rocked Parliament at the ultimate sitting of the last session in December 2021 was to preserve the democracy of the country. 

Mr Iddrisu, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) of Tamale South, said his side of the House could not have sat to watch their colleagues in the majority undermine the 1992 Constitution and Standing Orders of the House. 

The House degenerated into chaos on December 20, 2021 when First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, decided to vacate his seat to cast a vote on whether or not the controversial Electronic Transactions Bill (E-Levy) should be considered under a certificate of urgency.

Though, Mr Iddrisu admitted that the brawl was not a decent reflection of what “we are and what we should be doing as MPs,” he said their action was to uphold the democratic ethos of the country. 

“It is not for nothing that the Constitution states that before a bill is introduced in Parliament, it should be gazetted.

“The essence is to allow for the public to input into lawmaking. So lawmaking is not an exclusive right of MPs. The public is part of that process. 

“So when you come and suspend the orders, it means you are disallowing the public, stakeholders and other interest groups from participating.

“Our members were compelled to preserve the sanctity of our Standing Orders which guides our business and to preserve the values, letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution,” Mr Iddrisu said in an interview on TV3 in Accra, yesterday. 

According to Haruna Iddrisu, it was wrong for Mr Osei-Owusu, MP, Bekwai, to attempt voting whiles presiding over proceedings. 

“We said that was wrong constitutionally and is repugnant to our Standing Orders. Once he is presiding, he cannot have original vote or casting vote and this is in plain text in the 1992 Constitution.

“In every civilised democracy where the ethos and values of parliamentary democratic principles have so been well practiced, no Speaker or a Deputy Speaker [when presiding] exercises an original or casting vote.

“It was that wrong that we sought to prevent which resulted in the brawl,” he explained.  

Going forward, the Minority Leader said they would work to ensure that sanity, decency and decorum prevailed in the conduct of business in the House.  

Parliament, he said, was a forum where right and wrong is debated and that “right must prevail, not partisanship.” 

As a political opposition, Haruna Iddrisu said they reflect the legitimate concerns of the Ghanaian people and do not take that duty for granted. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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