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We won’t share committees equally with NDC – NPP caucus in parliament

Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) caucus in parliament has rejected the NDC’s demands for committees in the house to be shared equally.

“Our rules and conventions, and practices relate to the fact that the party that constitutes the majority populates the leadership of the committees,” he said, questioning the basis for the NDC’s demand.

 

“In my own fair assessment, indeed if we continue on that path, we will not succeed in growing our parliament. It’s the reason we came to fashion new standing orders,” leader of the NPP caucus, Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, said at a press conference in Accra on Thursday.

But the NDC said its numerical strength which is equal to that of the ruling NPP would not be compromised when it comes to the composition of committees.

Leader of the NDC caucus in parliament, Haruna Iddrissu said the party had no issues with sitting on the left side of the Speaker which by convention is designated for the Minority side of the House.

“The NDC’s 137 MPs have no difficulty sitting to the left of the speaker so long as our numerical strength is respected, respected in the composition of committees and the determination of the leadership of committees while we continue to pursue legitimate and legal constitutional processes to procure what we deserve as a majority party,” leader of the NDC side explained.

MP for Tamale South Constituency, Haruna Iddrisu

Although the NPP is claiming a shoe-string majority (138) in the House because the independent Fomena MP had opted to do ‘business’ with his mother party, the NDC leader insists the ruling party’s claims were not on the same path with the law.

Ghana’s eighth parliament has been described as ‘hung’ as the two major political parties have an equal number of seats.

The National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party had 137 seats apiece in the 2020 general elections with one independent candidate.

The two sides have been haggling over who has the majority in Parliament.

Hours ahead of the inauguration and commencement of the Eighth Parliament on January 6th, NDC MPs-elect went into the Chamber and decided to rip the labels and names on the right aisle of the Speaker’s seat.

The right side of the Speaker is by convention designated for the Majority.

The leadership of parliament went into an in-camera meeting on January 12 to decide on who sits where but the meeting was inconclusive.

But the leader of the NDC caucus and MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu addressing the press on Thursday afternoon in Accra said, “We have no difficulty sitting on the left of the speaker but it must be clear that no size has majority”

The independent candidate, a former member of parliament for Fomena Constituency on the ticket of the NPP, Andrews Asiamah Amoakoa, has said he would work with the NPP, giving the NPP an edge in terms of numbers.

However, Mr Iddrisu said the independent candidate did not run on the ticket on any political party and hence no side could claim him.

“ As to what it is now, you can just call me [Opposition] Leader and refer to the other side as the Leader of Government Business,” he said.

In Ghana’s Parliament, the size of each side determines the composition of committees. In the last Parliament, the NPP 169 lawmakers against the NDC’s 106. This meant that the NPP had at least 60% of the members of committees.

With the committees being the spine of parliamentary work, the NDC had in the past claimed that it was often bullied at committee sittings where it lacked the numbers to influence decision-making.

But Mr Iddrisu said that would be history as the opposition in the 8th parliament was determined not just to have their say but also their way at the committee level.

It is the first time in the country’s history both sides have struggled for numbers to form a majority.

In a parliament sharply divided between the country’s two main parties –the NDC and NPP, President Nana Akufo-Addo, on his inauguration day, said he would count on the politics of cooperation to move the country forward.

For the first time in 28 years, a Ghanaian President faces a political nightmare as he has to deal with a highly polarised legislature headed by a speaker from an opposition party.

With the situation not lost on him, the President also courted the support of his former peer and Speaker, Alban Sumani Bagbin.

“I’m confident that both of us will be guided in our relationship and the supreme interest of our people in ensuring good governance in ordering the affairs of this great country,” he said.

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