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27.07.2005 General News

NPP condemns NDC's conduct on bill

GNA

Accra, July 27, GNA - The Majority Caucus on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on Wednesday said there is nothing wrong with the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill and that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was "upstaging the constitutional process to suit their narrow aim of preventing Ghanaians abroad from exercising their franchise."

In a statement in response to the NDC's press conference last week on the bill, the Majority said the NDC's call on the NPP government to withdraw the bill and "address their proposals to the Electoral Commission (EC)", so that consensual legislation could be introduced into the House for amending the existing electoral arrangement was baseless.

"Does the NDC believe there is need for the amendment of the law that they have stated there is nothing wrong with," Mr Kwame Osei-Prempeh, Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee said at a press briefing.

Mr Osei-Prempeh said Article 51 of the constitution says, "The EC shall by constitutional instrument make regulations for the effective performance of its functions under this constitution or any other law, and in particular, for the registration of voters, the conduct of public elections and referenda including provision for voting by Proxy." "It is clear that it is after Parliament has passed the bill that the EC would make the regulations on all the questions as to how registration would be done, how voting would be done etc."

"Making the law is the preserve of Parliament and the NDC cannot give that power to the EC."

"Let me say that the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill only seeks to create the legal framework for the EC. All other details are for the EC not Parliament."

Mr Osei-Prempeh said when a bill comes before the House it could be wholly accepted, rejected or accepted with amendments, which is what always happens.

"We find it strange that the NDC, after demanding that the bill should be put in the public domain and debated decided to boycott the proceedings of the committee in taking the bill to the ordinary people of this country to educate them and solicit their views."

"This we view as a contemptuous disregard for the citizenry, and the lame reason that the views of the people would not be taken on board is a blatant lie."

He reminded the NDC that the Executive is not constitutionally enjoined to solicit views on bills.

He however, said Article 106 (4) enjoins a Parliamentary Committee to which a bill has been referred to make all such "enquiries" in relation to it and this is what the committee is doing.

The Chairman said it was unfortunate that the NDC Minority led by its ranking member, Mr Mahama Ayariga who chaired the planning committee should find reason to stay out of "this important exercise and go ahead to urge their supporters to disrupt proceedings of the committee. "This is a reckless shirking of responsibility by the NDC and they should apologise to Ghanaians."

Mr Osei-Prempeh advised the NDC that in the game of democratic politics it is the responsibility of both the Majority and Minority to ensure the growth of the nation on all fronts including good governance. 27 July 05

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