January 19, 2011

Parliament reconvened prematurely Tuesday and approved a motion to constitute an ad-hoc committee to probe the just-ended District Level Elections organized by the Electoral Commission (EC).

The House which rose December 23, 2010 and was to reconvene January 25, 2011, was recalled in accordance with Article 122 of the 1992 Constitution and Standing Order 38 which together command that 15 members of parliament could summon parliamentary meeting within seven days upon the request by the Speaker.

Fifty-four Members of Parliament some days ago petitioned the Speaker, Mrs Joyce Bamford- Addo to summon parliament to constitute a committee to scrutinize the causes of the problems associated with the District Level Elections.

The 20-member committee, ten each from the majority and the minority, will investigate the problems associated with the elections and recommend how to avert those problems in the ensuing elections in order to build confidence in the electoral system.

Mr Joe Ghartey, New Patriotic Party MP for Ketan/Esikadu who moved the motion, said the attempt was not to wage war with the EC or undermine its work but that it was for parliament to identify the challenges the Commission faced in organizing the polls and how to solve them.

He stated that Article 47 of the 1992 Constitution clearly demarcated the mandate of the EC and its independence, adding that it was not the intention of MPs who summoned parliament to interfere with EC’s role.

“We don’t seek to direct or control the EC, we are guided by Article 127 but as parliament we must work to strengthen institutions,” he said.

He said Ghana was a beacon of strength for democracies in Africa and added that leaving such anomalies uncorrected would not be in the national interest.

Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed-Mubarak, National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member for Asawase who seconded the motion, said Article 46 of the 1992 Constitution determined the independence of the EC but added that the motion by Parliament was not to control it.

“Every Ghanaian must be concerned with what happened during the recent District Level Elections,” he said.

He indicated that parliament’s mission was not to apportion blame but to help find solutions the problems.

He noted that the EC had conducted five general elections and a number of District Level Elections in the past and that one could not have imagined that such an incident would arise.

“I could not imagine what will happen if such a thing happened during the general elections,” he said.

Mr Muntaka suggested that the committee after its mandate be made to be in constant discussion with the EC until the 2012 general elections.

Mr Ambrose Dery, Deputy Minority Leader, said parliament was only on a fact finding mission to build more confidence in the elections, especially the impending 2012 elections. He said it was refreshing that the two sides of the House had joined hands to accomplish this mission.

Prof Mike Oquaye, Second Deputy Speaker, said it was the fundamental responsibility of parliament as representatives of all Ghanaians to act on behalf of those they represent at all times and should not be misconstrued.

“What concerns all must be approved by all,” he said, adding that “it is a serious matter and we must find a way of rectifying it so that elections are never postponed again.”

Majority Leader Mr Cletus Avoka said parliament was not attacking the EC but rather was trying to ascertain the facts that led to the difficulties faced by the EC in the organizing the recent elections.

He suggested that membership of the committee be nine since the committee had a limited mandate.

Mr Charles Hodogbey, NDC member for North Tongu, said when matters of this nature arose it was normally the practice that the sector minister be invited to give a report to parliament and that it was important to invite the EC to face the Committee on the matter.

Papa Owusu Ankomah, NPP member for Sekondi, added the EC could not address parliament and that the situation Mr Hodogbey referred to was different from the situation under discussion.

Source: GNA