Disagreement in Parliament over referral of absentee MPs healthy for democracy – Ablakwa
The North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has welcomed the discourse surrounding three MPs, Sarah Adwoa Safo, Henry Quartey, and Kennedy Agyepong, who have been referred to the Privileges Committee for absenteeism.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, he said, “this is healthy for our parliamentary democracy.”
“We are charting a path that will become the convention, the norm, so it is good that we are having these contestations.”
The referral in Parliament was marked by some protests by the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, who later filed a motion calling for the referral of the three MPs to be rescinded.
Mr. Muntaka felt the Speaker should refer the MPs to the Privileges Committee on his own accord because it would set a bad precedent.
But Mr. Ablakwa noted the protest was done in good faith.
“I do not see it as a conflict per se in the strict sense. It is different view points that are being expressed and it is being done with decorum and deep respect for everybody.”
While referring the three MPs to the committee, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, said the absence of the MPs without his permission constituted a breach of the rules of the house.
In Parliament on Tuesday, he urged the committee to provide its report to the house two weeks after the House reconvenes from its recess.
A former MP for Kumbumgu, Ras Mubarak, petitioned the Speaker of Parliament to tackle absenteeism in Parliament.
He also said the MPs cited had breached Parliament’s Standing Order 16(1) which frowns on Members absenting themselves for 15 sitting days without permission from the Speaker.
Per Article 97(1)(c) of the 1992 Constitution, a Member of Parliament shall vacate his seat “if he is absent, without the permission in writing of the Speaker, and he is unable to offer a reasonable explanation to the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges from 15 sittings of a meeting of Parliament during any period that Parliament has been summoned to meet and continues to meet.”