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26.07.2005 General News

PRB: Majority Whip unmasks Bagbin, John Tia

Chronicle

THE MAJORITY Chief Whip in Parliament, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, says he is surprised about the position of Hon. Alban Bagbin and Hon. John Tia, minority leader and deputy minority chief whip in parliament respectively, for joining their colleagues in taking an antagonistic stand against the proposed amendment to the People's Representation Bill (PRB).

The legislator explained that his surprise about the behaviour of the two minority leaders stemmed from the fact that they had earlier taken part in a discussion with the Ghana High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Mr.Isaac Osei, during which it was agreed for the necessary arrangement to be made for the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, which is working on the Bill, to meet with Ghanaians resident in the UK.

Speaking to The Chronicle in an interview in his office last Friday, he said, Bagbin and Tia were part of a parliamentary delegation that travelled to the UK on a working visit about three weeks ago.

He continued that while they were there, the Ghana High Commissioner hosted them at a reception and that during discussions the issue about the PRB came up. He said, “it was agreed at the discussion for the High Commissioner to make the necessary arrangement for the select committee working on the Bill to meet with Ghanaians resident in the UK.

“If they knew that they were not in support of the proposed amendment to the Bill, as they are now claiming, why did they take part in the discussion with the High Commissioner to arrange for the select committee to meet with Ghanaians in the UK? I think this is double standards,” the majority chief whip charged.

Hon. Mensa-Bonsu, MP for Suame, told the paper that the delegation, which included the Majority leader, Felix Owusu Agyepong, Hon. Kojo Armah and Hon. Okerchiri Adusah, had all agreed and concluded with the High Commissioner that arrangements be made so that the select committee would meet with Ghanaians in the UK on 12th and 13th of August, this year.

The Suame legislator further revealed to the paper that while they were in the UK the minority leader expressed shock at a press conference that they heard was being organized by the his National Democratic Congress (NDC) minority in parliament, to raise its objection to the proposed amendment to the Bill.

He complained that Hon. Bagbin had, on numerous occasions, been inconsistent in his arguments and positions on issues.

He said when the minority leader recently tried to make a statement on the floor of the House in relation to the 'Hotel Kufuor' saga, which was disallowed by the Speaker on the basis of the standing orders of the House, “he went out saying at a press conference that the speaker had prevented him from making the statement when indeed the speaker had only advised him.”

Though efforts to speak with the minority leader was not successful, the deputy minority chief whip, who was on the delegation, confirmed that he and Hon. Bagbin were present at the said meeting with the High Commissioner.

He, however, denied that they agreed on issues about the Bill at that meeting. Hon. Tia explained that prior to that meeting in the UK, the minority had made it clear that they would not be part of any deliberations on the proposed amendment to the bill for a good number of reasons.

“If we were present at the meeting and we did not speak or raise an objection to the arrangement, that did not mean that we had agreed with them on issues relating to the Bill. It is unrealistic for the majority chief whip to say that because we did not say anything on the issue during the meeting it meant that we had agreed with them,” Hon. Tia said.

Asked why the minority leader would have expressed shock upon hearing that, back home in Ghana, that the minority in parliament was holding a press conference on the issue, if indeed, he was not in support of the proposed amendment at the time, Hon. Tia said Bagbin had expressed shock about the press conference because the minority had not agreed at the time to hold a press conference on the issue.

“As leaders of the minority, we were only shocked because we were not privy to any arrangement to hold that press conference. So the minority leader saying that he was shocked, did not mean that we were not in support of the decision not to be part of discussions on the Bill,” Hon. Tia emphasized.

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