Parliament excludes C.I. on voter registration from business statement
An attempt by the Majority in Parliament to introduce the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2023 in the business statement as one of the items to be considered for this week was botched after a stiff opposition by the Minority Caucus.
The Minority argued that the constitutional instrument (C.I.) was not part of the business items that were collectively agreed on when the members of the Business Committee met last weed Thursday.
Consequently, the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, directed that since the instrument had not been agreed on for inclusion, it should be excluded from the business statement.
He advised that if the members of the Business Committee discussed and agreed on the way forward, the Chairman of the Business Committee could bring another statement on what had been agreed.
"So, I think to make the way forward let us exclude what was not part of the business arrangement for the week and proceed with what has been arranged for the week,” Mr Osei-Owusu directed.
The directive came after the Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, presented the business statement for the ensuing week ending Friday, February 17, 2023.
The new C.I. is seeking to make the Ghana Card the sole form of identification for eligible voters who want to get onto the electoral roll.
Presenting the business statement, Mr Afenyo-Markin told the House that the Electoral Commission (EC) might lay the C.I. in the House next week.
He said Article 11 (c) of the 1992 Constitution was clear on the mandate of Parliament in terms of Executive Instruments, legislative instrument and constitutional instruments.
In his view, whereas Parliament had a mandate to scrutinise such instruments, it could not also obstruct a constitutional body from undertaking its work merely because the Minority had some disagreement with the institution.
“Parliament has the mandate, through its Subsidiary Legislative Committee, to have a critical look at it but Parliament cannot obstruct or prevent a constitutional body which has a constitutional mandate to conduct public elections,” he said.
Reacting, the Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, said per a draft agenda that was discussed during the Business Committee meeting, the C.I. was never discussed, and therefore, expressed shock and surprise to see the introduction of the C.I.
“I am surprised to see the Deputy Majority Leader, who did not attend the meeting, standing here and making a pronouncement that this was agreed upon.
“The Business’s Committee’s mandate is for us to sit and agree on the businesses for the week but not for someone to unilaterally smuggle what is becoming a major contention,” he said.
Dr Forson cautioned that the Minority would not only oppose the business statement but also would not accept it.
“Our colleagues have not dealt with us in good faith and if that is the way they will go cooperation will suffer.
“Your conduct has taught the way to work with you and we will do just that,” he said, and requested that another motion be moved for the C.I. to be deleted from the business statement and proper consultation to be done on it.
Corroborating the Minority Leader’s concern, the First Minority Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, recalled how the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, during the previous session of Parliament, directed the EC to come and brief the Speaker and leadership on the content and rationale of the instrument.
“This is because the C.I. contains things that can be a recipe for chaos and disorder in the country and it is a threat to our democracy.”