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The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, has insisted that journalists reporting from Parliament has onerous duty to first cover proceedings on the floor of the House before extending their services to other happenings in the precincts of the legislature.
According to him, it is not right for the media to abandon Parliamentary Business while sittings are ongoing in the chamber to attend a private member’s event.
Such incident, he noted, cannot happen in the country’s traditional settings where a Chief invites journalists to cover a program at his palace and after honouring the invite, later abandon him to cover another event happening directly opposite the Chief’s palace.
“I want to reiterate that I spoke to both sides of the House and I did so categorically. I reminded that the media are most welcome as guests of this august House and we will do anything to assist them in the performance of this duty and we will continue to do so. That while the plenary, the Business of this House, is ongoing, our distinguish media people should not go outside the chamber to cover other activities whilst Parliament, the sovereign body of the people, is actually ongoing”.
“Hon. Members, I am raising some of these matters in a non-partisan manner in the interest of the dignity of Parliament as an institution which you have been elected as honourable members by the people. If any respectable chief in any part of our country has invited the media to cover an event at the palace, can you imagine, if there should be some people outside the palace, opposite doing something else, the media abandoning the distinguished chief and then going to cover that event and then abusing the Omanhene or Togbe or Nii or Nana. What will Ghanaians say? And this is what we are talking about. Our democracy is young – let us learn and act responsibly to develop it. Everyone who has been brought up in Ghana knows that such conduct in the Chief’s Palace will not be proper – so will it not be proper in the House of Parliament”, he said.
The Speaker’s comments on the floor of Parliament during a sitting on Thursday, follows calls by the leadership of the House to a cross section of the public who are passionate about press freedom and therefore saw the Speaker’s earlier comments as attempts to gag the media to ceasefire.
He said under his leadership, and the cooperation of the Majority and Minority Leaders, he is revising the rules of Parliament to strengthen the media to enable them to even cover committee sittings.
His insistence on journalists reporting from Parliament to first concentrate on covering proceedings in the chamber before any other thing else negates the consensus reached between members of the Parliamentary Press Corps and the leadership of Parliament at an earlier engagement.
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