23.02.2008 Regional News

Confusion Rocks New Districts

By Daily Guide
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THE CREATION of additional district and municipal assemblies nationwide continues to generate tension among sections of the public.

The same situation was manifested on the floor of Parliament yesterday as the issue was dragged for almost two hours without any consensus in sight.

Eventually, the Speaker had to adjourn sitting amidst the disagreement as the Parliamentarians debating the issue had assumed entrenched positions.

The misunderstanding started when the Chairman of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on Local Government, Francis Agbotse, presented the Committee's report on District and Municipal Assemblies Establishment Instruments, 2007.

Whereas some Members of Parliament (MPs) praised government for creating new districts and municipalities, others were at government's throat for inadequate consultation on the matter.

The MP for Navrongo Central, Joseph Kofi Adda, for instance, asked that the Legislative Instrument (LI) for the Kassena Nankana West District be withdrawn for further consultation as it was likely to create bad blood among the people within the communities.

The Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, on the other hand, did not agree, thereby creating a protracted debate.

Other MPs such as Hackman Owusu-Agyemang and Agbotse were of the view that the Minister should withdraw the LI as Adda suggested.

Their suggestion was taken as the Minister eventually withdrew the LI on the Gomoa East District Assembly.

He explained that contrary to the Committee's recommendations, the Instrument on the Biakoye District Assembly could not be withdrawn as that was likely “to result in a lot of confusion”.

According to him, “the ministry is therefore not in a position to support the withdrawal or suspension because of several petitions received”.

The Committee had examined the provisions of the Instruments and was of the considered view that they were consistent with the provisions of the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House.

The Committee had also requested the Electoral Commission (EC) to conduct independent investigations into some of the concerns raised by the petitioners and furnish it with a report as a basis for appropriate recommendations to the House, and further observed that the particular cases of Biakoye and Gomoa East Districts have raised substantive issues which require immediate review of the establishment Instruments prior to any further action by government.

The Committee accordingly recommended that pending receipt of the report of the Commission, the Minister withdraw the Biakoye District Assembly (Establishment) Instrument, 2007, (L.I.1910) and the Gomoa East District Assembly (Establishment) Instrument, 2007 (L.I. 1883) for further consultation with all the critical stakeholders.

In conclusion, the Committee also recommended that the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment strengthen its collaboration with the EC in the discharge of the functions specified under sections 1 and 3 of the Act 462 so as to ensure peace and harmony in the society at all times.

Earlier, the Majority Leader in Parliament, Abraham Ossei-Aidooh criticized the Committee for making “some grievous errors” as some of the recommendations made were not within its purview.

“Your findings that there were procedural irregularities were completely misplaced. We all respect the EC but we shouldn't let it have more powers than it already has,” he remarked.

By Sylvanus Nana Kumi

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