Ghana-Jamaica visa waiver agreement can’t come into effect without Parliamentary approval – Ablakwa

General News of Thursday, 20 June 2019

Source: classfmonline.com

2019-06-20

Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Ghana-Jamaica mutual visa waiver agreement cannot come into effect without Parliamentary ratification the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has said.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a joint a press conference with the Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, on Saturday, 15 June 2019, as part of Akufo-Addo’s two-day official visit to Jamaica announced that Ghana and Jamaica had agreed to a mutual visa waiver agreement.

According to Mr Ablakwa it was “inappropriate and unconstitutional” for Nana Akufo-Addo to have assured Jamaicans and Ghanaians that his negotiated visa waiver agreement with his Jamaican counterpart will come into effect from 1 July 2019.

Mr Ablakwa in a statement said parliament will have to ratify such an agreement before it can take effect and the President’s failure to acknowledged that “suggest he is either usurping the authority of Parliament or that the Ghanaian Parliament is a mere rubber stamp ready to do his bidding by ratifying whatever agreement is presented to the House…”

The lawmaker noted that similar mutual waiver of visa agreements for Diplomatic and Service Passport holders with the Republics of Colombia, Hungary, India and Chile signed several months ago – some under ex-president John Dramani Mahama, are still going through the motions in Parliament as page 11 of the Agenda for the Second Meeting of Parliament Commencing Tuesday, 28 May 2019 reveals.

Below is Mr Ablakwa’s full statement:

We are all the wiser per the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 75 (2) of the 1992 Constitution in the Gitmo 2 case.

The apex court offered clarity in the instant case that all international agreements MUST be submitted to Parliament for ratification before they could come into effect.

So I am curious; why is President Akufo-Addo assuring the Jamaicans and of course Ghanaians that his negotiated visa waiver agreement with his Jamaican counterpart will come into effect from July 1st 2019 (some 12 days from today)? Does the President have that authority to so pronounce?

Regardless of all the controversial matters others have raised, my fundamental contention as Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee is that this Ghana-Jamaica Mutual Visa Waiver Agreement cannot come into effect without Parliamentary ratification.

It is therefore most inappropriate, unconstitutional and indeed undermining of Parliament and the Judiciary for that matter, for our President to speak on the international stage in ways that suggest he is either usurping the authority of Parliament or that the Ghanaian Parliament is a mere rubber stamp ready to do his bidding by ratifying whatever agreement is presented to the House, that is, if even the President intends to comply with Article 75 (2) in the first place.

I would not have taken issue with the President if he had said expressly that the Mutual Visa Waiver Agreement will come into effect subject to Parliamentary ratification and if he had refrained from timelines since Parliament is NOT and CANNOT be an extension of his office. With all due respect, such conduct affronts constitutionalism and fails to market the beauty of Ghanaian democracy in the global arena.

Perhaps, it is worth reminding His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that similar Mutual Waiver of Visa Agreements for Diplomatic and Service Passport holders with the Republics of Colombia, Hungary, India and Chile signed several months ago – some under His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, are still going through the motions in Parliament as page 11 of the Agenda for the Second Meeting of Parliament Commencing Tuesday, 28th May, 2019 reveals.

Long live Ghana-Jamaica relations!

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

MP, North Tongu

Ranking Member, Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs.

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