General News Fri, 29 Nov 2002

Attorney General KOs Minority

Minority National Democratic Members of Parliament who returned to the House Tuesday, after their three-day boycott, failed to convince the government side, of any executive intrusion and breach of privileges and immunities of some of their colleagues. After some two hours of hot exchanges preceded by over 45 minutes of often-interrupted presentation by Mr. Alban Bagbin, Attorney General, Nana Akufo-Addo kayoed all hopes for the minority, when he described their submission as ?high sounding cymbals signifying nothing?.

As if to draw a curtain on the relevance of the boycott, he said, ?Mr. Speaker, as the government spokesman on legal matters, I am satisfied about the conduct of the Executive in this matter?. Nana Akufo-Addo also Minister for Justice called all the laborious proceedings that pushed the House to extend its sitting beyond the normal time, an academic exercise because according to him, in spite of their agitation about breaches of privileges and immunities, the minority failed to provide a single evidence to this effect.

He went as far as calling their grievance a rhetoric and pointed out the difficulty of government acting of mere rhetoric. ?We cannot act on rhetoric?, he said amidst heckling from the minority side led by leader, Alban Bagbin.

In the Attorney General?s view, which is really crucial in these matters, no constitutional breach has occurred and none has been brought before the House to warrant any action from neither Parliament nor the Executive.

Nana Akufo-Addo also MP for Abuakwa justified the need for hauling some minority members including Ato Quarshie and E.T. Mensah before the investigation bodies and promised his preparedness to come back to brief the House on the reasons why the MPs are being investigated if need be. Majority leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Papa Owusu-Ankomah agreed with the A-G. He said in his submission that the House has lost a unique opportunity to advance its democratic principles.

Mr. Owusu-Ankomah wondered what the minority wants Parliament to do since it has not brought before it, specific complaints of breach of privileges of members to warrant any action. He noted that although the majority side respects the right of the minority to take any action, which is within the confines of the law, to draw attention to what they consider improper, they (majority) do not agree with them.

The majority leader who is also MP for Sekondi, called on the House to engage in further discussions and consultations in respect of this matter. The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey buttressed the points made by both the A-G and the majority leader saying, he has a difficulty in taking a specific action on the matter because, no examples have been brought before the House. He therefore threw the option open to the minority.

Source: Network Herald