Initiate reforms to end holding parliamentary primaries every 4 yrs — Parliament urges political parties

Parliament has unanimously called on political parties to initiate constitutional reforms to end the ritual of holding parliamentary primaries every four years subjecting all members to contest irrespective of their experience. 

They said that the manner in which some experienced parliamentarians lose their seats only weakens the House. 

The MPs also urged the parties to readjust their calendar of activities to ensure that they did not interfere with meetings. 

The House had to adjourn yesterday without a single business, private or public, barely 30 minutes into proceedings because all but few members, especially from the Majority wing, were present. 

This is because majority of lawmakers on that side of the House are up for contest in the governing New Patriotic Party’s parliamentary primaries tomorrow. 

Responding to an application of the Minority for the House to be adjourned till Tuesday instead of today, the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the current trend if not checked would leave Parliament weakened.

“Political parties should ensure that when they hold primaries it should not fall within the period when Parliament is meeting. 

“What is the purpose of holding these primaries when the gate is opened for all to contest? What we are doing here does not exist in any part of the world,” he said. 

Acknowledging that political parties are injuncted by their constitutions to hold elections in the manner that it is today, the Suame MP said there should be a way to address the issue revealing that his ministry was engaging with political parties on the subject. 

“We all have to confront this reality because being honest with myself; I cannot envisage what will happen to us in the next two parliaments after this one. 

“The path we are creating for ourselves is not the best. The two major parties must bite the bullet and do introspection into the operations of their constitutions and proffer the necessary amendments. 

“We cannot continue this way and pretend everything is okay. We are walking a very slippery road so let us not bury our heads in the sand. What is happening is not the best,” the Majority Leader said.

The Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, supporting the Majority Leader said the practice of primaries for all every four years cycle had led to some experienced legislators leaving the House. 

“It has almost become like a crime to have kept long in this House and gain the necessary experience,” he observed. 

He said elsewhere like in the United Kingdom, they do not hold primaries for all constituencies every election year; a situation which makes it possible for lawmakers to be in the chamber for four decades with their experiences. 

“Mr Speaker, the way we do it here, where even the Deputy Speaker all the way to the last back bencher is subjected to contest is not good for our democracy.” 


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