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07.02.2005 General News

Public Agenda: Hope For The 3 Musketeers

By Public Agenda
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There appears to be a glimmer of hope for Dr. Richard Anane, Minister designate for Roads and Transport, Sheik I.C. Quaye, Greater Accra Regional Minister designate, and Isaac Edumadze, Central Regional Minister designate whose approval has been put on hold pending further investigations by a sub committee.

Public Agenda's research desk picked up signals that indicate the majority side is brazing up for a fight and will evoke their whips into active duty when their approval should require voting. Should that happen, the three 'musketeers' would surely count themselves lucky since they only need a simple majority.

When Public Agenda spoke to legal brains at the Center for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) on whether the Appointments Committee has powers under the Constitution to exclusively determine the fate of the nominees without recourse to parliament, they said the committee has no such powers. The Sub Committee will only have to report its findings to the Appointments Committee. Instead, the Appointments Committee will make a recommendation to Parliament after studying the findings of the sub committee.

“If the Appointments Committee recommends a non approval of the three, Parliament has the option of either voting on the recommendation or agreeing on it by a consensus,” CEPIL explained. With both sides holding on to entrenched positions, Public Agenda can forecast that the approval of the three musketeers will likely go for balloting in parliament. When that happens, the three will be given a lifeline, since it requires a simple majority for a minister to be approved.

When Public Agenda spoke to the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Honourable Owusu Agyapong, he said he did not want to forecast on whether or not the committee will recommend a non-approval, and added that he and his colleagues were keeping an open mind, hoping the committee will do a “good job.” He added though that if the minority should prove 'cantankerous', “we will prove to them that we know how to play politics.” When reached for his comments, the Minority Leader, Hon. Alban Bagbin said the findings of the sub committee will be debated and if the house fails to reach a consensus, they may have to vote on the issues as happened during the selection of the Speaker of Parliament. He was however quick to add that it will be normal under a parliamentary democracy if the issue went for voting.

NPP's Press Secretary, Kwadwo Afari told Public Agenda that the issues involving the three ministers are entirely parliamentary which should be dealt in parliament. “Our party will not have anything to do with it, we will abide by the constitutional requirements. He however added that he did not find the issues weighty enough to block the approval of the ministers.

The General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Bide Zideng was also of the opinion that when the Committee finds adverse reasons to reject the three ministers, the president will have to withdraw them and re-nominate. “If the President fails to do that and if parliament is divided over the issues, they will have to go into voting,” he added.

Some members of the committee, who spoke to this paper, said the cases involved are so grievous that parliament should not allow them to be swept under the carpet. The sub committee must, therefore, dig deep into each case and unearth any wrongdoing.

It will be recalled when Dr. Richard Anane appeared before the committee, he failed to convince the committee of his sources of income and the amount of money he had transferred to his American lover girl. He also denied ever picking up a hotel bill of ¢51 million when she visited him in Ghana. Though he agreed that, with the assistance of his family members, he had been remitting his American wife for the up keep of their two-year-old son. he said the amount involved was in the range of $6000 to $10,000 and not $90,000 as alleged by the Committee.

When the greater Accra regional minister designate, Sheik I. C. Quaye took his tern at the vetting committee, he could not present his certificate as he claimed in his CV. When pressed he said he lost his certificates when his residence was flooded sometime back.

On his part, Isaac Edumadze, Central Regional Minister designate denied involvement in any acts of corruption when the committee put it to him that he had abrogated a contract with one road contractor because the contractor refused to put up a house for him.

Not satisfied with their explanations, the committee which many commentators describe as the 'Bagbin's Court', set up a sub committee to further investigate the issues involved; hence the withholding of the approval of the three.

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