Boycott of parliamentary proceedings, breach of Parliament’s standing Orders – Speaker rules

Alban Bagbin

Mr Alban Bagbin, Speaker of Parliament, Wednesday, said the boycott of Parliamentary Proceedings by the Minority caucus without an official communication was a breach of the House’s Standing Orders.

He explained that the Standing Orders of Parliament stipulated that a Member of Parliament (MP) shall vacate his or her seat after being absent for 15 sittings, without permission by the Speaker and was unable to provide a reasonable explanation to the effect.

Mr Bagbin said on the Floor of the House when Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, raised concerns that the 137 National Democratic Congress MPs were marked absent on Tuesday, July 11 19th sitting Votes and Proceedings of the House.

He argued that it was not appropriate that all the NDC MPs could be marked absent when it was to be “Absent with Permission” Following Dr Cassiel Ato-Baah Forson’s declaration that the Caucus would boycott proceedings whenever any of their members went for a court hearing.

Mr Bagbin however ruled that the gesture was not justified without any formal communication to him.

“Some MPs have been captured for being absent without permission, some concerns have been raised on the definition of walk-out and boycott. The deputy Minority Whip has raised a very serious matter on the fact that from his knowledge, some members were not present yesterday, but they have been captured as present, as it’s an indictment on the officers of Parliament.

 “On the issue of attendance, Article 97 (1C) is very clear and that is what guides attendance of the House. So, you can choose to attend or choose not to attend. When you refuse to attend, depending on your action, you could be marked as absent or absent with permission. The burden now falls on the group to show evidence that my good self has permitted you to absent yourselves in writing, not verbally; that any time a colleague of yours wants to attend court proceedings, you will solidarize with that colleague and that you will be absent so that the official report will capture that,” he said.

The Minority Caucus in Parliament on Tuesday July 11, 2023, abandoned Parliamentary Proceedings in support of the trial of Mr James Gyakye Quayson, the MP for Assin North.

On Tuesday, July 4, the Caucus also boycotted Parliamentary Proceedings to accompany their colleague MP.

According to the caucus, the trial of Mr Quayson was unfair and ought to be dropped by Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice.

Owing to that, the Minority had decided to abstain from Parliamentary proceedings and accompany their colleague MP to court.

Meanwhile, the High Court in Accra Tuesday dismissed Mr Quayson’s application for a stay of proceedings.

Mr Quayson is undergoing trial on charges of forgery and perjury.

Lawyers representing the Assin North MP had submitted a request for the court to halt proceedings, allowing the Court of Appeal to review the trial judge’s decision to conduct the case daily.

Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, lead counsel of Mr Quayson has announced the intention to apply with the Court of Appeal, seeking a stay of proceedings.

Source: GNA

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