Richard Sky simplifies the complexity of the 8th Parliament and matters arising

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Citi FM’s Richard Dela Sky has simplified the possible events in the journey of selection of a speaker of Parliament for the 8th Parliament of Ghana.

Richard,in a Facebook post, talk about the effects of  hung Parliament and it’s expectations.

Read statement below:

 

137vs137+1: Simplifying the ‘Complexity’

  1. The Electoral Commission has ––– following the 7 December 2020 elections ––– announced the Parliamentary results of all 275 Constituencies, despite NPP and NDC concerns about the results in a few constituencies.

  2. Per the results, which have since been published in the gazette, both the NPP and the NDC won 137 seats each. There is one Independent MP-elect from Fomena. These are the numbers that the EC will send to the Clark of Parliament before the opening of the 8th Parliament.

  3. The Independent MP-elect in paragraph 2 above has indicated that he will seat with the NPP side in the next Parliament. Note that he cannot be on his own. He has to take one of the two sides — the Majority and the Minority — in the House.

  4. That indication does not amount to an intention to ‘cross carpet’ and is, therefore, allowed by the Constitution. Article 97 (h) of the 1992 Constitution states: “A member of Parliament shall vacate his seat in Parliament if he was elected a member of Parliament as an independent candidate and joins a political party.” In this context, joining means taking up the membership of a recognised political party in Ghana. For the avoidance of doubt, the Fomena MP-elect intends to seat on the NPP side in Parliament not join the NPP as a party. Accordingly, he will not vacate his seat under Article 97 (h). This will not be the first time this is happening in Ghana’s Parliament. Rashid Bawa (now an NPP stalwart) was an Independent MP who sat with the Parliament’s NPP side that sat from January 2001 to January 2005. James Victor Gbeho (an NDC stalwart) was also in that Parliament as the Independent MP for Anlo.

  5. In the light of the explanation in paragraph 4 above, and given the seats’ distribution as detailed in paragraph 2 above, the NPP will most likely form the Majority in the next Parliament. This is because the Independent MP intends, as explained in paragraph 3 above, to seat with the NPP side to take their tally from 137 seats to 138 seats. The Majority, within the meaning of Standing Order 7 of Parliament is “the Party or Parties holding majority of the seats in the House…” For the purposes of Parliamentary work, the Independent MP-elect is to be construed as a ”party” within the meaning of the rules. The NDC side will then form the Minority under Standing Order 7 because they would effectively be ”the Party having the largest numerical strength in Parliament other than the Party [NPP] that has formed the Government…”

  6. There is, however, an interim injunction that, for now, operates against Peter Amewu taking office as the NPP MP for Hohoe. An injunction is a court order that compels a party to do a specified act or desist from doing a stated act. Interim injunctions are commonly used to avert possible injustice pending trial. So far, and despite the concerns noted in paragraph 1 above, only the Hohoe seat is facing a legal challenge before our Courts.

  7. That interim injunction, granted on 23 December 2020, expires after ten days. Before the expiration of the interim injunction, the applicants may go back to the court on notice for further orders, pending the outcome of the substantive case.

  8. For now, however, the Attorney General is –– as they are entitled to do –– challenging the validity of that order. It appears the AG moved to have the order quashed because, among other reasons, her office was named as defendants in the original action that produced the interim injunction.

  9. The Supreme Court has set 4 January 2021 to hear the AG’s challenge. It is unclear when judgement will be given. However, it is widely expected that a firm determination will precede the opening of the 8th Parliament on 7 January 2021.

  10. If the Supreme Court quashes the interim injunction, Amewu will then be free to be sworn into office on 7 January 2021 as the NPP MP for Hohoe. However, the substantive case against his election is likely to continue before the High Court, Ho.

  11. If, however, the AG’s challenge fails, and the injunction is upheld, and where Amewu is somehow blocked from taking office as MP until the matter against his election is decided by the High Court, Ho, the NPP will then be a Member-elect short (fall from 137 to 136). In such a scenario, the NPP cannot, technically, form (on 7 January 2021) the Majority in Parliament within the meaning of the rules.

  12. If paragraph 11 comes to pass, and remains the case as at 7 January 2021, then the NDC –– with its 137 seats –– will, within the meaning of Standing Order 7 of Parliament, have become the party with the largest share of seats in the House, although the Independent MP would still count as part of the NPP side.

  13. Under the rules of Parliament, Speaker’s election (under article 95 of the Constitution 1992 and under Standing Order 8 of Parliament) is the first business done by a newly elected House. Suppose the scenario in paragraph 12 above results, and both sides propose two different candidates for the position of Speaker. In that case, the House is unlikely to quickly elect a Speaker, unless there is a compromise or at least one Member-elect decides to defy his side’s ‘three-line whip.’

  14. In Parliamentary language, a three-line whip is a firm instruction issued to MPs to attend Parliamentary proceedings and vote in strict compliance with their party’s position. Any deviation provokes the imposition of severe penalties on the non-compliant Member or Members.

  15. The reason for the view in paragraph 13 above is that the House would have been split into two halves (137 NDC vs 136 (NPP + 1 INDP). In that case, the resulting votes in the event of the two sides proposing different candidates for the Speaker’s position is likely to stall at 137 vs 137, unless (at least) a Member-elect (1) votes against his/her party’s proposed candidate or (2) abstains from the vote or (3) destroys his/her ballot. Remember that the vote will be taken via “secrete ballot”. The rules require the winner to obtain a simple majority.

  16. Note, however, that the Constitution requires the President-elect to assume office in the presence of Parliament. The result is that a Speaker must necessarily be elected to take his chair and then swear in the Members-elect (before the President-elect’s swearing-in). In other words, if a Speaker is not selected, MPs cannot take office, and the President-elect cannot assume office.

  17. In my view, it is doubtful that things will get so messy (no matter the state of affairs as of 7 January 2021) as to prevent the inauguration of a new Parliament and a new President. My reason is that both sides know how far is too far when it comes to stretching the fabric of our democracy. In any case, the rules demand that where there is a vote, and there is a tie, the vote be repeated until a winner is found.

  18. I hope the above analysis and or explanations will help all those asking questions about which side will most likely form the Majority in the next Parliament (based on current numbers). I am, however, open for corrections, if any, on the foregoing analysis.

  19. Thank you.

rD.s

About Post Author

Ellis Ferdinand

Ellis Ferdinand is the Founder of Education Ghana Media Network ,a parent Company of EducationGhana.net ,an Online Education News Blog and Education Television, an Online Digital Television Channel. Ellis Ferdinand is a Graduate of Accra College of Education and the University of Cape Coast respectively, where he obtained a Diploma In Basic Education and a Bachelor of Education in Accounting. Awards Ellis Ferdinand won Blogger of the Year at the 2018 National Students’ Awards and was also adjudged 14th Best Ghanain Blogger in 2018 among Top 50 Ghanaian Bloggers of 2018. He introduced the Concept of Education Blogging in Ghana in 2014 with his famous blog EducationGhana.net. His Blog won Best Media Promoting Education in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively, an Award organized by Neogenics Education Consult. In 2019, He was adjudged the Most Promising West African Blogger of the Year in Nigeria.
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