Majority and Minority strike compromise on privileges issue
Both the Majority and Minority in Parliament on Friday reached a compromise to release a public statement to inform Ghanaians on the true feelings of members on the alleged breach of the privileges of Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, NDC-Wenchi West. The two sides therefore refrained from voting for the adoption of the report of the Committee on Privileges on the issue as its contents drew the two sides apart.
Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, NDC Wenchi West had lodged a complaint of contempt of Parliament against Mr Kwadwo Yeboah Fordjour, Brong Ahafo Regional
Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in December, last year, for obstructing him (Asiedu Nketiah) from discharging his lawful duties as a Member of Parliament during a radio discussion on Sky FM in Sunyani and the matter was referred to the committee for consideration and report.
The Privileges Committee had returned the verdict of no guilt of contempt of Parliament against Mr Fordjour. Mr J. H. Mensah, Senior Minister had proposed the truce when he told the house that there was the need to rise above partisanship to protect the dignity and image of MPs and Parliament as an institution. "No member should be intimidated by members of the public in the discharge of his or her duties."
Papa Owusu Ankomah, Majority Leader, after a series of crises meetings with his Minority counterpart, Mr Alban Bagbin, said:" We need to come together as one to uphold the dignity, honour and strength of Parliament." Members had earlier begun debating the report on strict party lines.
In the report laid in Parliament on Tuesday, the committee said in determining the issue of contempt of Parliament, it took into consideration whether Mr Asiedu Nketiah was performing his official role at the Sky FM radio station and the circumstance of Mr. Fordjour coming to the radio station and clashing with him (Asiedu Nketiah).
It also considered whether Mr Fordjour had obstructed Mr Asiedu Nketiah and whether a mob was organised to threaten him, (Asiedu Nketiah) while performing his duty as an MP. The committee said Mr Asiedu Nketiah's participation in the programme at Sunyani Sky FM premises was in line with his lawful duties as a Member of Parliament.
It said however, that since the Brong Ahafo Regional Chairman of the NPP was allowed access to the studio by the authorities of the Sky FM, he could not be described as having forced his way into the studio, notwithstanding the circumstance that led the management of the station to be persuaded to allow him to participate in the programme.
It said though the behaviour of the NPP Regional Chairman was objectionable and improper at the studio, he could not solely be blamed since both parties got carried away and engaged themselves in hot exchanges of insults at the studio.
The Committee cautioned radio stations, presenters/moderators to take all the necessary steps to ensure that their programmes do not degenerate into violent confrontation. It urged MPs and the public to exercise restraint even in the most testing circumstances when they participate on radio, TV and other programmes in the interest of democracy and tolerance.