POLITICS 

Speaker refers Minority MPs’ behaviour to Privileges Committee

Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Minority side who displayed placards during the swearing-in of the MP for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Madam Lydia Seyram Alhassan, last Tuesday are to face the Privileges Committee of Parliament for their behaviour. The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, who gave the ruling yesterday, directed the Clerk of Parliament to go for the tapes or video recordings of the day’s proceedings to identify the MPs involved in the display of placards with the inscription “Bloody Widow” directed at Madam Alhassan for them to be referred to the Privileges Committee.

Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Minority side who displayed placards during the swearing-in of the MP for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Madam Lydia Seyram Alhassa

After a debate on the raising of the placards, which followed an application by the First Deputy Majority Chief Whip, Mr Mathew Nyindam, for the Minority side to be made to apologise for that act, Mr Osei-Owusu ruled that the Minority leadership should apologise on behalf of their members.

But that ruling was rejected by the Minority side, led by the Deputy Minority Leader, Mr James Avedzi, and the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka.

The two leaders said the Standing Orders of Parliament did not indicate that the leaders should apologise for the conduct of their members.

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Speaker’s ruling

The Deputy Majority Leader, Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo, then stood on a point of order and intimated that once the Speaker had given his ruling, the Minority side did not have any option but to comply per the Standing Orders.

She said the Minority side could only challenge the ruling by filing a substantive motion.

Supporting her position, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Suhum, Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah, said granted that the Speaker’s ruling was not captured in the Standing Orders, Order Six of the Standing Orders allowed the Speaker to use his discretion to give a ruling.

Responding, Alhaji Muntaka said the Minority members could not comply with the ruling and that they would challenge it by a substantive motion.

“You (Mr Speaker) made a ruling. We cannot comply with it and we will challenge it by a substantive motion”, he said.

There was heckling in the house, and Mr Osei-Owusu asked the Marshall to walk out the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Tamale North, Mr Suhuyini Alhassan Sayibu, from the chamber for shouting on top of his voice.

Debate

During the debate, the Majority side led by Ms Safo said the display of the ‘Bloody Widow’ placards was an attack on widowhood and women.

Besides, the Majority side said the act was an affront to the dignity of Parliament as the Standing Orders frowned upon the denigration of the image of an MP.

But the Minority MPs,led by Mr Avedzi, said the Minority MPs were not referring to Madam Alhassan but rather the violence that characterised the by-election.

The Minority MPs argued that even if the claim of assault on the character of Madam Alhassan was true, at the time that some of them held the placards, she was not yet sworn-in as MP.

Alhaji Muntaka spoke on a conciliatory tone indicating that, the display of cards was not captured in the Standing Orders, which allowed MPs to display all sorts of unwarranted messages.

He called for a concerted effort between the Majority and Minority sides to outlaw the use of placards by MPs in the Chamber of Parliament.

Earlier, the Majority Women Caucus in Parliament held a press conference and condemned the Minority side for assaulting the character of a widow, by displaying the placards.

Minority MPs march to the Police Headquarters after they had walked out of the Chamber during the swearing-in of Ms Lydia Seyram Alhassan last Tuesday

Recall

The Minority in Parliament last Tuesday boycotted the swearing in of Madam Alhassan, in order not to give credence or legitimacy to her election and subsequent swearing-in.

Dressed in black and red attires, the Minority MPs held placards in the House with the inscription “Bloody Widow” to demonstrate their description of her election as bloody.

Immediately after the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, had read a communique’ from the Electoral Commission (EC) informing the house of the election of Madam Alhassan and that, she was being ushered in to the chamber to be sworn-in, Alhaji Muntaka indicated that the Minority members could not participate in the swearing-in because her election was characterised by violence.

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But the swearing-in went on as Ms Safo contended that, Parliament was following due process as Madam Alhassan was duly elected and the results of the election were communicated to Parliament by the EC.

Immediately after the walk-out, the Minority MPs led by Alhaji Muntaka matched to the Ghana Police Service Headquarters to show solidarity to their colleague NDC MP for Ningo-Prampram, Mr Samuel Nartey George, to lodge a complaint for the alleged assault on him during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election held on January 31, 2019.

Madam Alhassan, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate who won the by-election, replaces the late NPP MP for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Mr Emmanuel Kyeremateng Agyarko.

The conduct of the polls was marred by a shooting incident at the residence of one of the aspirants, Mr Kwasi Delali Brempong, the NDC candidate, which resulted in injuries to 18 peOPLEand an assault on an observer at one of the polling stations.

At the La Bawaleshie School Park, Mr George, who was observing the elections, was allegedly assaulted by some unidentified persons.

The incident also resulted in the NDC directing their agents to withdraw from the various polling stations.

Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Minority side are to face the Privileges Committee of Parliament for displaying “Bloody Widow” placards.

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