Accra, Feb 02,GNA- The Parliament on Thursday voted to push the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill beyond the consideration stage, with one more legislative lap for it to be passed. The Minority, who vehemently opposed the bill from its unset were absent due to their indefinite boycott of Parliament. The bill had generated anxiety and debate even in homes and public places in the country ever since government introduced it Parliament last year.
The Bill seeks to amend the Representation of the People Law, 1992 (PNDC 284) to enable Ghanaians resident abroad who by virtue of restrictions imposed on them by the law are unable to register and vote in public elections and referenda in Ghana to do so. The Minority had, among others cited administrative hurdles and practical problems such as logistics and geographical distance as some of their reasons for opposing it.
Mr Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader, who read a statement on behalf of his group during the second reading, said they were not opposed to the principle of extending franchise to Ghanaians living abroad. He said there were serious legal and administration problems that had to be cleared before the proposed law could operate without negative consequences.
The Members of the Majority had sat through the rough and tumble of the day without making individual contributions. They had earlier declared that they sensed mischief in the rhetoric of the Minority saying that they (Minority) wanted to deny a good number of Ghanaians living abroad the right to vote.
Some Legal analysts however, contend that the amendment to the parent law was a matter of constitutional necessity, which does not need a ceremonial touch.
The PNDCL284 conflicted with Article 42 of the constitution. A group called Diaspora Vote Committee (DVC), a pressure group, had threatened to seek the view of the Supreme Court on the matter if the vote of the bill fell through.
The New Patriotic Party has a practical majority of 128 and could lean on 4 members of People National Convention (PNC), 3 members of Convention People's Party (CPP) and 1 independent member in time of need.
The National Democratic Congress's strong 94 members would only make a difference in times when a constitutional provision is being amended The House needs two-thirds majority of all members' votes to carry through a constitutional amendment but a single majority of members is needed to pass a bill. Feb. 16 06