Cassiel Ato Forson
The Majority in Parliament has accused the Minority of choosing an obstructive political diversion of legislative business over the interests of the country and patriotism with its continuous boycott of sittings of the House.
Frank Annoh-Dompreh, the chief whip for the Majority, said it was unacceptable for Minority members to enter Parliament to register their names and then leave the building to prevent a quorum for proceedings.
His comments followed the premature adjournment of Parliament’s sitting yesterday to examine and adopt a number of reports by the House’s Committees, including the Finance Committee’s report on the Public Interest and Accountability Committee’s (PIAC) report due to a lack of quorum.
During the consideration of the Votes and Proceedings, the NDC MP for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor, rose to inform the Chair that he did not see a quorum.
The bells were rung for 10 minutes, and no quorum having resulted, the Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Amoako Asiamah adjourned the House pursuant to Standing Order 48(2).
The NDC Minority MPs’ actions raised questions from Mr. Annoh-Dompreh, who is also the NPP MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, on whether they were performing their duty as the people’s representatives.
“I see the tactics our colleagues are adopting. They came to the chamber, today I saw many of them, and they withdrew. Is it the way they are going to serve mother Ghana? The good people of this country will decide,” he asserted.
He continued, “Tomorrow, pick the Votes and Proceedings and you will see the number of people from their side who signed in. But because they had planned with deceit that they would raise quorum and come under [Standing Order] 48(2) just to distract business, they withdrew from the chamber.”
According to Annoh-Dompreh, NDC MPs should be aware that the Ghanaian Parliament conducts both government and private business.
He was speaking to the media following the adjournment of Parliament and remarked that the Minority continues to pick and choose when it suits them.
“They had raised the issue of quorum, yet they never enforced it because their members came to raise a matter of urgent public importance under Standing Order 72.
“So you see that they are picking and choosing. On the matter of Dr. Bawumia, that is their own problem. I know they hold him in fear and that is their decision. We will leave it for another day,” he intimated.
“But for me, we are very disappointed. They came in their numbers and when we had to prosecute the business of the House they withdrew from the chamber. That is most unfortunate,” the Majority Chief Whip noted.
“We will be looking at them. But they shouldn’t say they are boycotting Parliament and sneak and go and participate in committee meetings.
“That is a weak position and it is not a principled position. If they are boycotting Parliament they should do so in its totality and then we will take them seriously.
“They should behave in a more principled position and stop this picking and choosing tactics. It is not going to help anybody,” he said.
Dr. Ato Forson, the Minority Leader, claimed that he sees no impropriety in the boycotts of House sittings and stated that the Majority has 137 elected MPs plus one independent MP, which number can create a quorum for doing business and taking decisions.
“This means that they don’t actually need the NDC to form a quorum and start business. Until you have 92 MPs [present in the chamber], you cannot even pray.
“You can’t adopt the Votes and Proceedings. Our position is simple: the NPP should not expect the NDC to do government business for them, whilst they sit in the comfort of their homes drawing on salaries and going to constituencies to campaign, using government fuel and vehicles,” he alleged.
“We are urging them that inasmuch as they are persecuting our members, they should withdraw from the field and come and do business. Since they have escalated the persecution of our colleague, James Gyakye Quayson, they should not expect cooperation from us,” he insisted.
Dr. Forson stated that the NDC would no longer announce the approach it would adopt in the future, but assured the public that “all options are on the table on a daily basis.”
“We are not going to compromise on that. They should come to the floor and do their business and work for the interest of Ghanaians,” he noted.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House