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09.01.2009 Politics

Parliament: President's inaugural speech good, organization of inauguration bad

By gna
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While expressing appreciation to President John Evans Atta Mills for his inaugural speech last Wednesday, Members of Parliament on Friday expressed concern over the chaotic and precarious manner the ceremony turned out to be.

"We have witnessed difficult and suffocating inaugural ceremonies in this country. But to put it mildly, this inaugural went over the imagination of everybody," Mr. Alban Bagbin, Majority Leader said, in a statement on the floor.

The ceremony, which should have taken place at the Parliament House, was moved to the Independence Square, both in Accra to accommodate the larger number of people desiring to witness the swearing-in of President Atta Mills.

However, the ceremony turned chaotic into a virtual political rally, depriving a number of the legislators from witnessing fully the activities of the event.

Mr Bagbin said: “The crowd over-run the security and turned the Parliamentary Sitting into a national political rally. As Majority Leader, I saw no arrival nor departure of any dignitary, including his Excellency and Madam Speaker. I heard no word from you, Madam Speaker, the President and the Vice.”

At the ceremony, members of the Legislature were subjected to a scene of a struggle between the security personnel and perambulating members of the public, particularly the media.

Mr Bagbin, who is also MP for Nadowli (NDC) said the view of the legislators was blocked by both local and foreign media personnel who had clustered in group between them and the action spot.

"As nation, these repeated scene inaugural ceremonies pose a challenge that we should confront and provide a solution," the Majority Leader said.

Minority Leader Mr Osei Kyei-Mensa- Bonsu said members were trapped in the buses ferrying them from the Chamber Block of the House to the Independence Square for almost two hours due to traffic jam forcing them to get down and trek, with many drenched in sweat having covered a distance of over one kilometre in the suits and traditional garbs.

'While on the vehicles threats were flying from all directions as people kept on banging at the windows and others made all manner of gestures.

"Not too may police escorts were available that day and those who were present demonstrated they had not come because of the Members of Parliament," Mr Kyei- Mensa-Bonsu said.

The Minority Leader also complained of frequent movement by non-parliamentarians, poor public address system which prevented members from hearing the oath taking of the President and the Vice, and neither did they see the investiture, nor hear the inaugural speech of the President.

He suggested that the House resolved that the swearing-in of any President-elect shall have to take place right in the Chamber of the House.

"After the swearing-in, the President may then proceed to the Independence Square to deliver his inaugural speech to the nation," Mr Kyei- Mensa- Bonsu said.

Majority Chief Whip Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, blamed the State Protocol and the National Security Agencies for the disorder.

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