Politics

Relinquish your seat if you cannot be present in Parliament – Kofi Bentil

Relinquish your seat if you cannot be present in Parliament – Kofi Bentil

Senior Vice-President of IMANI-Africa, Kofi Bentil, has asked MPs to renounce their seats if they cannot be consistently present in the House to be involved in parliamentary business.

According to him, many MPs in recent times have disregarded the significance of their position as legislators and have treated the law-making job as part-time work.

Reacting to the issue of MPs absenting themselves from Parliament without the Speaker’s permission, he noted that the act is wrong and for which reason is the essence of Parliament’s Standing Order 16.

“We should complain because there are rules for Parliament and indeed the rule is that if you are a parliamentarian, it is a full-time job and if you want to do anything on the side, you need to seek permission from the Speaker…If you don’t want to do the job of a lawmaker, go and make laws, sit in Parliament, debate and please don’t go to Parliament…that rule [Standing Order 16] was made for a certain broader goal and the goal is that if they don’t want to go to work, they should relinquish their seat,” he stated.

Speaking on Newsfile on Saturday, Kofi Bentil, underscored how a hung Parliament has caused MPs themselves to track the consistent absence of their colleagues.

He believes that the current hung parliament is the best for the country’s democratic governance.

“We should all be minded to stead down and shame those parliamentarians who take the money, take the office, take the purse and do not go to work. This is entirely good and it’s one of the good things that come out of a hung Parliament.

“As far as I am concerned, we should always have hung parliament because it will create a certain dynamic that would bring good things out of the democratic structure we have. This is the first time in the fourth republic that we are having Parliament asses itself in this kind of strong way,” he added

Three NPP MPs have been referred to the Privileges Committee in Parliament by Speaker Bagbin for absenting themselves for over 15 days without his permission.

The three MPs are; the Dome-Kwabenya MP, Sarah Adwoa Safo; Ayawaso Central MP, Henry Quartey and Assin Central MP, Kennedy Agyapong.

Delivering his ruling on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday, Alban Bagbin explained the absence of the MPs is in breach of Order 17(1) of the Standing Orders of Parliament and Article 97 (1) (c) of the Constitution.

“I have accordingly come to the irresistible conclusion that a Member who absents himself or herself from 16 sitting days of Parliament in a particular meeting, without the permission, in writing, of the Speaker, falls squarely within the ambit of Article 97, clause 1(c) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 16 (1) of the Standing Orders of Parliament”, he stated.

But the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak disagrees with the Speaker’s decision.

The Asawase MP has filed a motion seeking to revoke Speaker Bagbin’s referral of three Members of Parliament to the Privileges Committee in Parliament.

In a memo to the Speaker of Parliament on Tuesday sighted by myjoyonline.com, purportedly signed by the Asawase MP, he prayed the House to revoke the Speaker’s decision.

“That this Honourable House resolves to revoke, cancel or rescind the referral made by The Rt. Hon. Speaker on the 5th day of April, 2022 to the Committee on Privileges to consider the issue of absence without permission from the House under Article 97 (1) (c) of the Constitution and Standing Orders 15 and 16 of Honourables Sarah Adwoa Sarfo, Henry Quartey and Kennedy Ohene Agyapong,” portions of the memo

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