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15.02.2007 NDC News

Boycott of Parliament is constitutional - NDC

By GNA

The minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Wednesday said their boycott of Parliament was to show their loyalty to the Party.

Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah, General Secretary of the Party, told press conference in Accra that the 1992 Constitution also states that no one should be disloyal to the party.

He said neither the president nor anybody could be disloyal to a party and continue to belong to it.

"Immediately anybody decides to abandon his/her party, his/her seat becomes vacant,"

Mr. Asiedu-Nketiah told the press conference, attended by party stalwarts including Professor John Evans Atta Mills, the party's flag-bearer for the 2008 elections.

The NDC press conference, chiefly addressed by Mr. Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader in Parliament, was in reaction to the State of the Nation address presented by President John Agyekum Kufuor to Parliament on February 8.

In his address, President Kufuor asked NDC MPs to reconsider their boycott and return to the House to play their part to uphold the integrity of parliament.

The NDC MPs were not in Parliament last Thursday when the President presented the State of the Nation address to Parliament.

The NDC has been boycotting Parliament since February 6 in solidarity with Mr. Dan Abodakpi, MP for Keta and Former Minister of Trade and Industry who has been jailed for 10 years by an Accra Fast Track High Court for causing financial loss to the state.

Mr. Asiedu-Nketiah said even if the boycott took several days or years, the NDC would ensure that justice was done.

"We should not be looking at the role of Parliamentarians as only representing their constituencies, but the entire totality of Ghanaians," he said.

Mr. Alban Bagbin said the party was yet to take a decision on when to return to the House and asked Ghanaians not to allow mischief to poison their understanding of multi-party democracy.

"We don't operate independently from our party," he said, adding that the argument that the MPs who had been boycotting parliament should not be paid their salaries showed “a serious ignorance".

Mr. Bagbin said no law prevented MPs from boycotting Parliament and the party had the instrument of appeal, boycott and demonstrations to ensure that justice was done. "They are necessary in this particular situation," Mr. Bagbin said.

According to Mr. Bagbin, the trial of Mr. Abodakpi was initiated by the President himself and instead of using the Auditor-General as provided by the constitutional to vet the books of Mr. Abodakpi, a private accounting firm, Baafour Awuah and Company, who he alleged were party members, reviewed those accounts.

The NDC also accused the Government of manipulating the judiciary in the handling of the case of Mr. Abodakpi.

Mr. Bagbin referred to the absence of Mr. Eric Amoateng, former MP for Nkoranza North, who resigned last week as MP, saying that he (Amoateng) was absent from Parliament for more than a year but received all his emoluments.

Amoateng has since November 2005, 2005 been held by a US court for alleged drugs deals.

Dr Benjamin Bewa-Nyong Kumbuor, NDC Ranking Member on Defence, said some MPs in the ruling New Patriotic Party had by statements attributed to them consistently provoked the NDC in Parliament and the press.

Dr Kumbuor said it was irresponsible to allege that the boycott had been due to outside influence and asked if the contraction of the CNCTCI and the IFC loans were not contracted by them through outside influence.

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, MP for Tamale South, said the NDC would continue to demand accountability from the ruling NPP.

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