The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has clarified that the Minority is not barred from partaking in the debate on the State of the Nation Address in Parliament.
This is despite the Minority’s decision to walk out amidst chants just before the President delivered his speech.
Addressing concerns in Parliament, a day after the speech, the Suame Member of Parliament said the Minority can participate in the debate set to commence next Tuesday.
“At the end of the debate, a question will be put and the rules provide that members who are not in the Chamber when an issue is being discussed, still have the right once they end up in the Chamber to participate in voting. What it means is that if members were not in the Chamber to listen to the President, they still technically have the right to contribute to the debate.
“Our laws allow them to do that. The issue may be a matter of morality but that matter will be left to the Minority but technically they cannot be faulted if they want to participate in the debate.”
Reasons for boycott
The Minority in giving reasons for its boycott made mention of the Electoral Commission’s plan to compile a new voters’ register.
It cited possible voter suppression in opposition strongholds as the real intention for the new voters’ register.
It also cited the rejection of a number of recommendations made by the Emile Short Commission on the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election as well as the closure of some radio stations as part of reasons for the boycott.
“We cannot help but agree with the US State Department Human Rights report which has raised concerns of possible voter suppression in opposition strongholds as the real intention for the needless and wasteful new voters’ register,” the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu stated when he addressed the media on Thursday.
How did the boycott occur?
Mr. Mensah-Bonsu had earlier pointed out that the idea to boycott the election was initially suggested by the NDC’s National Chairman, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo.
“I had a hint on Wednesday that their party Chairman came to meet them and came to sell the idea to them to boycott. Well, at their own meeting, they could not come to a fair conclusion because there were some that were not convinced about the reasons they had to cite to boycott [the session].”
“Up to Thursday morning, they were not sure whether to boycott or not to boycott but I got wind of it and contacted my colleague, the Minority Leader that I had heard rumours that this was what they intended to do. I just wanted the basis for that because as far as I am concerned, there was no basis and then he said they were still doing some consultations.”
He further indicated that former President John Dramani subsequently advised members of the Minority against the boycott but they carried on after being urged by the General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia.
“I am told that subsequently, the former President was engaged and he advised that boycotting in his opinion was not the best. Subsequently, the General Secretary of their party attended [the said meeting] and urged them not to attend [the State of the Nation Address]. That is the information that came to me,” he said.