The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah says the Minority in Parliament’s decision to walk out during the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered Thursday, February 20 was ill-conceived.
This according to the Minister is because the Minority members are yet to agree on a particular reason why they staged the walkout.
“It was ill-conceived because you observe the various reasons they have given at every point in time and it’s obvious that even they themselves cannot agree on a specific cogent reason as to why they did it.
“Almost every opportunity they get they give a different reason. Almost every hour, they’re changing the reason for which they did that, and what now they’ve resorted to is a post-facto rationalization of what they did.
“Because if you take their antecedents and their reasons that they gave it doesn’t match the kind of action they sought to embark on,” he said.
Speaking on Joy News’ Newsfile Saturday, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah added that the actions of the Minority are unjustified as they are obligated to partake in the State of the Nation address according to Article 67 of the 1992 constitution.
Thus, although a walkout is a legal parliamentary protest in the incidence of a normal course of parliamentary business, the Minister said it shouldn’t be so for SONA.
“You see the mandate of Article 67 is not in the normal course of parliamentary business. The normal course of parliamentary business is standing orders regulators.
“I can come by statements, somebody can bring a motion, they may have a report of a committee, there may be a resolution we’re considering, those are the normal course of parliamentary business and when we disagree on it, there may be walkouts, and there may be boycotts associated with that.
“But if you look at our constitution, article 67 imposes an obligation on the president to perform, and my reading of the entire constitution picks a tap even from the principle of probity and accountability, where and we must have a platform where the president will account to the country through parliament for what has transpired.
“So the article 67 obligation on the president is not in the normal course of parliamentary business. Indeed In my understanding it is a constitutional obligation that the president has to perform, so it imposes an obligation on the president, it imposes an obligation on parliament, parliament meaning the entire body of parliament,” he said.
He added that “Indeed by convention, we have even stepped the tab forward by now ensuring that the entire judiciary or the head of the judiciary is present, the Supreme Court judges are present, the scale of justice is brought there, you’d find that the president’s staff, the vice president, former presidents, everybody is there.
“So even if these arguments you’re making are valid there are many legal options to express them and to get redress to them than to say that you’re abdicating your article 67 obligation that is imposed on you by the constitution of our republic,” he stressed.
He warned that such actions if continued, could undermine the pillars of the country’s democratic processes.
He further advised the Majority in Parliament to be very accommodating of the Minority’s views on the floor of Parliament when the debate on the SONA commences on Tuesday.
“I do know but I think leadership has already had some conversations to that effect. Indeed yesterday the majority leader signaled and advised that we will be expecting a smooth debate on the floor.
“Despite my colleagues’ abdication of their duties, we need to show maturity, we need to take the higher ground so that we avoid what is becoming a race to the bottom.
“I’ve heard colleagues who say they’ll obstruct the Minority from expressing their views, but as I mentioned, we need to move forward so that the real intent of what article 67 requires us to do can be achieved,” he said.
The Minority in parliament had attributed their walkout of Parliament at the just-ended State of the Nation address to various reasons including the presence of the SWAT team at the precincts of parliament during the SONA, district assemblies common fund allocations not being paid, and the shutting down of radio stations operating without licenses among others.
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