Wa, July 12, GNA- The Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, on Monday held the first in a series of regional level public hearing on two important bills currently before Parliament, at Wa in the Upper West Region. They are the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill and the Whistle Blower Bill.
All the eight National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MP) on the committee headed by its ranking member, Mr Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central, boycotted the forum.
Mr John Ndebugri, People's National Convention (PNC) MP for Bwaku West (Zebilla) and Mr Kojo Armah, CPP MP for Evalue-Gwira, both members of the committee were present at the meeting.
Mr Kwame Osei Prempeh, the New Patriotic Party MP for Nsuta Kwaman, said even though Mr Ayariga contributed to the organisation of the forum, he informed him last Thursday that the NDC members would not take part in the forum.
Mr Osei Prempeh explained the essence of the two bills vis-=E0-vis PNDC Law 284 to the audience made up of students, teachers and departmental heads and other workers.
He noted that the law among other issues enshrine the right of Ghanaians working for the State abroad and soldiers serving in peace keeping abroad to vote during an election in Ghana while denying same right to hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians resident permanently in their countries of abode.
Mr Osei Prempeh said any law in conflict with the 1992 Constitution was null and void hence the amendment bill.
He said the forum was aimed at collating views of Ghanaians on the amendment bill to enable the committee consider useful suggestions that might be made before the bill was passed into law.
Mr Rashid Pelpuo, NDC MP for Wa Central, who later made a brief appearance at the public hearing said: "the bill is not the best for us, it is not going to bring progress, hence our boycott of the forum." Mr Godfrey Bayong Tangu, NPP MP for Wa East, said Ghanaians resident abroad should also be given the right to determine the destiny of the country, since what affects Ghanaians in their country affect those abroad directly or indirectly.
Concerning the amendment bill, contributors expressed their anxiety as to the impartiality of Ghana's ambassadors and high commissioners to conduct elections on behalf of the Electoral Commission, as they are political appointees of the NPP government.
They also wandered whether the government could provide resources required by the Electoral Commission to enable it to extend its functions outside the country.
Others contributors called for a census of Ghanaians residing abroad and a national referendum on whether they should be given the right to vote in the country's elections.