The North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, says it was unconstitutional for the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament to vote while presiding over parliamentary proceedings.

In an interview on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Wednesday, the former Education Minister described Joseph Osei -Owusu’s conduct as an affront to the Standing Orders of Parliament.

The Bekwai MP, while acting as Speaker on Tuesday, counted himself as an MP for the Majority to get the 138 members it needed as quorum to approve the 2022 Budget statement.

He subsequently overturned the earlier rejection by the Minority group and approved the policy document in the absence of the Minority caucus and the Speaker, Alban Bagbin.

But Mr Ablakwa disagrees with this.

“We are very clear in our minds that it is absolutely illegal, it is unconstitutional, it’s an affront to our Standing Orders for a member presiding to add himself to the number of members who are meeting to decide on any matter. If you look at Order seven of our Standing Orders, it is clear that Mr Speaker includes a member presiding at a sitting.”

“If you look at our standing orders carefully, speakers cannot even participate in a debate. This is because speakers lose their original votes, so certain responsibilities and privileges that are reserved for Members of Parliament in the Chamber to deliberate, to debate, to take decisions, the Speakers are lifted above the frame, and that has been the practice, that has been the tradition [and] that has been the convention,” he stated.

Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa further argued that the Majority did not have the required numbers to approve the budget, adding that they do not meet the demands of Article 104 of the Constitution.

“What they have done is a constitutional nullity, it is so strange to our Standing Orders, and we are where we are simply because you have a Majority Caucus and a government of the day that refuses to build bridges, refuses to engage, refuses to carry the entire country along.”

“They do not believe in consensus-building. Negotiations broke down yesterday, and negotiations continue to break down because when we insist that we are not in Parliament representing ourselves, we were sent there by the people of this country [and] the people feel very strongly about this 1.75% e-levy. Our constituents feel strongly about the neglect of the Blekusu Coastal Protection Project, over 4,000 dislodged, a major humanitarian crisis.”

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, therefore, questioned the premise on which the Majority claims to have passed the 2022 budget statement.

“The question is, what was approved yesterday, the purported unconstitutional approval that they claim to have engaged in yesterday? What document have they approved; is it the same 17th November document which we believe was rejected, or is it the one with the concessions that they have made?”

The Minority in Parliament rejected the 2022 budget on Friday, November 26, after the Majority staged a walkout. Both sides have since taken entrenched positions over the issue, with the Minority group calling for a review of some provisions in the budget.

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