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Ghana-Jamaica waiver will be laid in Parliament; Minority’s concerns premature – Gov’t

Government has rubbished claims of the Minority in Parliament that, it has breached the Constitution following President Nana Akufo-Addo’s announcement of a visa waiver with Jamaica.

During his recent trip to the Carribean, President Akufo-Addo visited Jamaica and a host of other countries and announced a visa waiver between Ghana and Jamaica.

The waiver is set to begin on July 1 – a decision the Minority has termed as illegal since it was without recourse to Parliament.

But, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament, Frank Annoh Dompreh has hinted that, there was no way the President will disrespect the legislature in this agreement because plans were already advanced to have the agreement laid before the House for due processes to be followed.

“The President has written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, details of this agreement are being worked on together with the solid agreement which finality will be brought on in a day or two. The President has been a respected constitutional lawyer. I want to assure the people of Ghana and the Minority that we will not repeat the mistake they indulged in. All is being done and certainly, the agreement will head to Parliament as the constitution stipulates for it to be ratified by the representation of the good people of the country. The President will not disrespect the constitution,” he said on Eyewitness News.

The Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has said, “the President erred when he gave those assurances and spoke conclusively as though there is no role for Parliament”.

He argued that the recent Supreme Court ruling on the two former detainees from Guantanamo Bay makes the waiver illegal and unconstitutional.

July 1 timeline

Annoh Dompreh maintained that, Government is mindful of not repeating the mistake of the erstwhile Mahama administration in the Guantanamo Bay detainees case.

He therefore advised the Minority to rather exercise restraint for the right processes to be completed before it begins to cry foul.

“The President as the first gentleman of the land has the right to have a timeline in terms of what he seeks to achieve. If the President said 1st July, he knows that from now till that time there are some number of days because he knows that some work needs to be done on the solid agreement – so you cannot fault him. The Minority is probably jumping the gun. If I were them, I would have waited until the 1st of July expires and then I will take the President on. For now, I think they are hastily concluding. Let’s wait, be confident and believe in the President who understands the intricacies and nuances in ratifying international agreements. From all my checks, everything is in order and then eventually the solid agreements will be presented to Parliament for onward ratification.”

Ablakwa’s Response

In a quick reply on the same show, however, Mr. Ablakwa described government’s posture by disregarding Parliament as worrying.

He warned government to be circumspect in dealing with the matter adding that the definite date given may suffer a setback assuming it even gets laid in the house.

“The President spoke conclusively without recourse to Parliament. If the President has said that this agreement will come into effect without timeline, and says subject to Parliament, then you can fault me for raising the issue. The President ought not to proceed as though Parliament is a rubber stamp. It is possible that, this agreement will be brought to Parliament and then the House will reject it. Ratification is not automatic. We are not a rubber stamp, and you don’t create that about our democracy and constitutionalism on the international stage.”

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