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Parliament must reform Standing Orders — Dr Akwetey

BY: Samuel Duodu & Vincent Amenuveve
Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin (2nd from right), Speaker of Parliament, interacting with Dr Emmanuel Akwetey (2nd from left), Executive Director of IDEG, after the Speaker’s Seminal Lectures in Accra. Those with them are Nana Kobina Nketsia V (right), Paramount Chief of Essikado Traditional Area and Professor Kofi Abotsi (left) Dean, UPSA Law School. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR
Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin (2nd from right), Speaker of Parliament, interacting with Dr Emmanuel Akwetey (2nd from left), Executive Director of IDEG, after the Speaker’s Seminal Lectures in Accra. Those with them are Nana Kobina Nketsia V (right), Paramount Chief of Essikado Traditional Area and Professor Kofi Abotsi (left) Dean, UPSA Law School. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR

The Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, has called for a review of the Standing Orders of Parliament to reflect its current composition and the way it conducts its business.

He observed that the current Parliament was not the same Parliament 28 years ago.

“It is a different Parliament called the hung Parliament which has come to stay; therefore, reforms must begin with its Standing Orders,” he stated.

Dr Akwetey made the call during a panel discussion at the maiden edition of the Speaker’s Seminal Lectures held on the theme: “Parliament, its business and the Supreme Court in perspective” at the Accra International Conference Centre on Tuesday, May 31.

The lecture sought to stimulate public debate on the concept of separation of powers in the light of the Supreme Court decision in the Justice Abdulai vs Attorney-General case, and the applicability of the political question doctrine in Ghana’s jurisprudence.

It was attended by the leadership of Parliament and their members, academia, governance experts, students and some members of the public .

Hung Parliament

Dr Akwetey said the hung Parliament had come to stay but he was quick to add that in Ghana, “we do not interprete electorate messages in elections; it is about who won the elections".

He stressed that working together in a hung Parliament was key because the electorate were eventually saying the two major political parties should work together.

The law and politics

A Lecturer at the University of Ghana Law School, Clara B.Kasser-Tee, called on the Judiciary to be consistent in distinguishing between the legal aspect of a case and the political aspect in determining a case.

“The court must stick to the legal aspect and protection of rights while leaving the political aspect to the elected branches of the arms of government,” she noted.

A Private Legal Practitioner and Managing Partner of [email protected], Thaddeus Sory, for his part stated that the political question was part of the law since “we practise a system of governance which recognises constitutional supremacy”.

Giving a definition of political question doctrine, he said it was a question that a court would not consider because it involved the exercise of discretionary power by the Executive or Legislative branches of government.

“I would like to emphasise that in many decisions, the courts had applied that doctrine in this country whether they have said it is political question doctrine or not; they have consistently applied it," he posited.