Alban Bagbin (left), Speaker of Parliament, addressing the participants in Sunyani
Alban Bagbin (left), Speaker of Parliament, addressing the participants in Sunyani
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Protect democratic governance against military rule — Bagbin

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has urged citizens to trust, appreciate and protect the nation's democratic governance system against military rule. 

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He said anytime democracy was truncated, ordinary citizens lost their rights and liberties. The Speaker acknowledged that although the country was confronted with various challenges, including an unprecedented economic downturn, insecurity and poor leadership as a result of weak institutions and systems which were not limited to the country, democratic governance was far better than any rule under military dictatorship.

Mr Bagbin was speaking at separate mock parliamentary debates and public fora in Sunyani in the Bono Region, and Techiman in the Bono East Region last weekend.

Event

The mock parliament and public fora were held as part of events to celebrate the nation's 30 years of uninterrupted Parliamentary Democracy under the Fourth Republic, on the theme: "30 years of Parliamentary Democracy under the Fourth Republic: The journey thus far".

Discussants deliberated on Parliament's achievements, acknowledged challenges and the need to recommit to the principles of democracy, justice and equality that had guided the nation over the years.

Mr Bagbin cautioned citizens, particularly the youth, not to undermine the democracy they were enjoying. “I am hearing the youth saying democracy is not good; let's go back to military regime. If you say that, you don’t know what you are talking about,” he said.

Mr Bagbin said under the current democratic governance, lives of the citizenry were far better than the military rule the nation witnessed. “There is no democracy anywhere without parliament," adding that since 1993, Parliament had played a vital role in shaping the destiny of the country, he added.

Political funding

Mr Bagbin also said that there was the need for the country to change its electoral processes, particularly the funding of political campaigns and party leaderships. He said often, Members of Parliament had to mobilise their own resources to fund their campaigns and sponsor voters to get them elected.

The participants in Sunyani

The participants in Sunyani

“If I do not bring a bus, you will not go and vote. If I do not provide food and drinks, you will not vote for me. If I do not pay your school fees, you will not vote for me. After I have paid all these, you say I should represent your interest, what interest is that?

“If I have to look for my own money to come and get you to vote for me and I am now in Parliament and you say I should represent your interest after I have paid you for your services, are you being realistic?,” he asked.

Mr Bagbin said until constituents stopped making such demands, they would keep changing their MPs every four years but would never get results. He also said that parliamentarians were elected to represent the interests of their people and not the interests of their political parties.

“So, when you are in Parliament, you are representing the people who voted for you. You are to represent their interests and not your parties,” the Speaker added.

Reforms

Mr Bagbin further called for the amendment of the 1992 Constitution to reflect the aspirations of the people. He also said that Parliament needed more women and youth representation, including persons with disability (PWDs).

The Speaker added that it was also not appropriate to take away the rights of chiefs in participating in partisan politics, saying "that is not democracy".

On the December 7 election this year, Mr Bagbin called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and other stakeholders to work towards ensuring a free, fair and credible peaceful election.

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