The Speaker of Parliament’s decision to suspend Parliament indefinitely instead of recess prompted an angry response from Minority Members of Parliament (MPs) with their leader throwing tantrums.
Haruna Iddrisu, who is also the MP for Tamale South said Speaker Professor Mike Oquaye on his birthday had become a ‘walking illegality’ by engaging in ‘constitutional parliamentary dictatorship’ which could not find space in the Standing Orders of the House.
“I respect your age, I respect your speakership and your birthday today, but we will not accept this constitutional parliamentary dictatorship in Ghana today and forever,” he said in reaction to the announcement on the Floor of the House about the suspension on Saturday evening.
He accused the Speaker of not consulting the Minority leadership on the decision and believed the action was arbitrary.
Speaker Oquaye announced the indefinite suspension of sitting of the House Saturday evening, indicating that the “nation is not in normal times” because of the affliction of the coronavirus pandemic.
He explained that an adjournment would require a 14-day notice to recall MPs to attend to business of the House in case of an emergency, and that the safest way out of the challenge was a suspension, which would allow the lawmakers to take a break and could be recalled when the need arose, within the shortest possible time.
The opposition MPs were expectant of a recess as against suspension since the first meeting of the Fourth Session of the Seventh Parliament was scheduled for adjournment on Saturday.
Responding to the concerns of the Minority, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu justified the Speaker’s decision, asserting that Order 6 of the House had provided for the Speaker’s action.
“Now if he has to suspend the House, ordinarily, he (Speaker) would have to consult with the leaders. Over the past two weeks, my colleague (Minority Leader), for some reasons, decided not to see the Speaker and when the Speaker called for pre-sitting meetings, he (Minority Leader) and his leadership didn’t attend those meetings. In that regard, how was he (Speaker) to consult him who has decided not to avail himself?” the Majority Leader asked rhetorically.
According to the leader, the outrage of the Minority appears to be a ‘phony’ one as there is a way to deal with the conduct of the Speaker, if one is not pleased with it, and insisted that the move by the Speaker is “legal and proper” as he associated himself with the comment that Ghana is not in normal times.
“In any case, we have had a Speaker, who turned his seat to give his back to Minority MPs, but that did not take us flying into tantrums. We followed the procedures,” he pointed out.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House