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General News Thu, 21 Nov 2002

Boycott is strange and shocking ? Govt Spokesman

It is indeed very strange and shocking the decision of the NDC minority in Parliament to boycott proceedings in the house on the basis of so-called intimidation by the NPP. Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, Assistant Government Spokesman has said.

Reacting to the NDC MP's boycott of Parliament, he said the use of Dan Abodakpi's prosecution in court as a basis for their unwarranted and unnecessary boycott of parliamentary proceedings is strange and unbelievable since due process is what is being followed.

He said investigations have been completed and charges preferred against Abodakpi in relation to alleged financial misconduct while in office as a Minister of Trade. If he is truly innocent, it is up to him to prove this innocence to all Ghanaians and the world, but not for the NDC group in parliament to embark on any boycott.

"It would be better for them to distance themselves from attempts to cover up colleagues who misconducted themselves while in office. If they truly believe in rule of law, probity and accountability then they must rescind their decision quickly in relation to the boycott," he said.

Bediako noted taht failure to do this will create doubts in the minds of Ghanaians with regard to the true intentions and colours of the NDC. No one should be allowed to hide behind parliamentary privileges and run away from justice. If this is encouraged, as is being demanded by the NDC minority, parliament, which is the supreme law making body in the country, will lose its public respect.

Clearly, the purpose of the boycott is to divert attention from vital national issues, create unnecessary tension and cause dislocation in the performance of parliamentary duties, he indicated.

It would be recalled that on Wednesday, November 20, 2002 NDC members of parliament boycotted the House in protest against what it described as "Executive intrusion on the rights and privileges of members."

The NDC Minority group also intended advising itself on any subsequent actions necessary to abate the "blatant attempt to intimidate Members of Parliament (MPs) and prevent them from carrying out their constitutional role as representatives of the people."

The Minority Leader, Alban Bagbin, made these known at a press conference in Parliament House in Accra on Wednesday. He said the group had directed its members to disregard any invitation from any investigative agency or summons to court if it is not properly channelled through the Office of the Speaker.

The Majority leader, Papa Owusu Ankomah, later described an unfortunate and uncalled for, the decision of the Minority MPs to boycott proceedings of the House for the rest of the week in protest against alleged harassment and intimidation of some of its members.

He said for instance that the claim of immunity by the MPs against prosecution or any form of criminal investigation or prosecution is not a partisan matter but an affront to the dignity of the entire members of the House.

Reacting to the Minority NDC MPs decision in an interview in Accra yesterday, he explained that if really the Minority were sincere in their claim, they would seek the support and co-operation of the rest of the MPs, even on the Majority side, to fight any encroachment on the rights, privileges and dignity of Parliament and its members.

Papa Ankomah said: The process they have adopted is wrong and makes their stand very partisan. If they followed appropriate parliamentary process, Parliament would certainly deal with the issue.

Source: Chronicle