Minority MPs Chase Speaker

MINORITY MEMBERS of Parliament are chasing the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho to quickly withdraw the purported referral to the Council of State the proposals for the amendment of certain entrenched provisions of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

The Minority said the details of the proposed amendments were not available to Members of Parliament as the Speaker claims to have forwarded them to the Council of State upon receipt of same from the Attorney-General.

They noted that the Speaker’s action, which is said to be based on Article 290 of the Constitution, was being misinterpreted because the speaker, according to them was not an MP and has “no legislative power vested in him, acting alone.”

Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, the ranking member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Joseph Osei-Owusu, said the processes being used to review the constitution was at “variance with known conventional and practiced constitutional review processes worldwide.”

The minority, thus, called on the Speaker to withdraw the referral of the bill and also for the Attorney-General to withdraw the bill from Parliament, have the proposals gazetted before its introduction into Parliament in order to create the six-month space for public participation in deliberations of the bill.

He explained that any proper reading and appreciation of Article 290 would suggest that the bill ought to have been published in the gazette and later introduced to Parliament after the six-month expiration.

The ranking member added that Article 90(1) of the constitution emphasizes the fact that the Council of State could only consider bills after they have been gazetted.

The bill, according to Mr. Osei-Owusu, was submitted by the Attorney-General to the Speaker on April 28, 2014 and the Speaker on the same day referred the bill to the Council of State for advice and stressed that bills are meant for “consideration of Parliament, and not the Speaker.”

Mr. Osei-Owusu on behalf of his colleagues observed that the whole process of constitutional amendment is turning out to be nothing other than an executive review of the national constitution.

This, they said among other things was because late President Atta Mills used an executive instrument to create and constitute the Constitutional Review Commission, adding that the commission’s report which ensued from some consultations with sections of the Ghanaian populace and reviewed by the Executive with a White Paper issued rejected some portions of the report and further replaced them with views of the Executive.

Mr. Osei-Owusu further noted that the “receipt by the Speaker from the A. G. instructions in the form of proposals for amendment to the Constitution of Ghana and, in his capacity as administrative head of Parliament, the Speaker is purporting to initiate a process for amendment without reference to Members of Parliament in plenary or at committee.”