General News of Fri, 12 Mar 20049

Ghanaians Abroad Vote: Govt Backs Down

Government revises Registration of the People (Amendment) Bill
Government on Friday reviewed its decision to pass the Registration of the People (Amendment) Bill under a Certificate of Urgency to allow the Bill to go through the normal processes to ensure more public debate on the issue.

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Representation of the People Law, 1992 (PNDCL 284), to enable Ghanaians resident abroad to register to vote in all elections.

The Bill was laid before the house under a Certificate of Urgency on March 9 and referred to the Committee on Legal, Constitution and Parliamentary Affairs for urgent consideration.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice in a statement in Parliament said: " However, the Bill has generated so much public interest...In the light of this, and the fact that government does not want its intentions to be misunderstood, I am requesting, Mr. Speaker, that the Bill be considered just like any other Bill."

He said this would enable many more Ghanaians to contribute to the debate and the Committee given the opportunity to listen to as many interest groups as possible.

"This, government believes, Mr. Speaker, will enhance and deepen the democratic process and enable the Bill when eventually debated by the House, to take into account the views of the cross section of Ghanaians.

The Minister said the government believed that all legal "impediments to the exercise of the right to vote must be removed, but will not want the process to evoke undue anxiety, tension and apprehension among Ghanaians."''

He said the government "is a listening government and will always act in a manner that will not allow its noble intentions to be misconstrued."

Earlier, Mr Felix Owusu-Adjapong, Majority Leader presenting the Business Statement for the first week of the second meeting of the fourth session of Parliament said the House was expected to resume on Tuesday, May 25, 2004.

The House is expected to rise "sine die" on Friday. For the first week, Mr Owusu-Adjapong said the Ministers of the Interior, Education, Youth and Sports, Health, and Roads and Transport would be expected in the House to answer questions.

He reminded his colleagues that a number of Legislative Instruments (LIs) had been referred to the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation for consideration for the establishment of some new District Assemblies. The Majority Leader urged the legislators especially those whose districts were affected in one way or the other by the LIs to present their viewpoints and suggestions for consideration by the committee.

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Source: GNA

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