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08.10.2004 General News

Constitutional Instrument on elections referred

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----- to Sub-leg Committee

accra, Oct. 8, GNA - Mr Ken Dzirasah, Second Deputy Speaker, on Friday referred the "Public Elections (Presidential and Parliamentary Election Date) Instrument, 2004 CI 48 to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee for scrutiny.

The Bill, which was laid by the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Felix Owusu Agyepong, on Thursday, would seek to give legal backing to the date for Election 2004.

After intensive indoor consultations, the leader told the House on Friday that the instrument would be allowed to pass as a 21-day bound bill but urged members to bear with the leadership if the sitting days within the meeting were adjusted.

He said the bill carried two ideas, which are the date for the election and general information on the election, hence the difficulty to treat it differently as done in previous Parliaments.

"The safest thing to do was to take the well known approach so that Parliament would not be seen as interpreting the constitution." He said in future, the Electoral Commission would have to do further work on the bill while something is done about the constitution to clear all doubts about what constitutes what instrument and how each should be treated.

Mr Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader, backed the Majority Leader by saying that it was advisable to err on the side of caution. This puts to rest controversies on the election date, which has been a source of wrangling in the House since it came back from recess on Tuesday

On Thursday, Mr Ken Dzirasah, Second Deputy Speaker, who chaired, did not refer it to any specific committee on Thursday but said that "a lot of consultations are going on and that may affect the destiny of the Bill."

Mr Doe Adjaho, the Minority Chief Whip, had issued a statement on Wednesday urging the House to summon the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General to explain why no instrument for legalising the date for the Elections had come to Parliament.

Another contention of Mr Adjaho was that, the instrument might not benefit from by the 21 sitting day maturity rule if it was not laid on time.

Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey, Speaker, who was in the chair, ruled that Parliament could not bear the responsibilities of the Electoral Commission and that it could not direct it to perform that duty but could only draw its attention to the issue.