The Leader of the New Party Party (NPP) Caucus in Parliament says the mode of balloting used on January 7 to elect the Speaker was a deviation from the constitutional requirement.
Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said instead of the Parliamentary Service printing out the names of nominees for the Speakership position for members to tick their preferred choice, they should have presented empty ballot papers for MPs-elect to write the names of their preferred candidates.
He explained to Samson Lardy Anyenini, host of Joy News’ Newsfile show on Saturday that is what is stipulated in Order 9 of the Parliamentary Standing Orders.
“[Secret balloting] is defined for us by our own Orders. And Order 9 makes that provision that in terms of secret balloting, relating to the election of speakers, it says when we have to engage in that, your nominations have been received by the clerk, the clerk announces that the ballot now be taken.
“And then the next step it says ‘an officer of Parliament shall give to each member present a ballot paper on which the member may record his vote by writing the name of the person for whom he wishes to vote.’ That has been the practice whenever we have to do secret balloting.
“They issue ballots to all of us, we go and sit in our places then the member is called. And when he’s called he goes and cast his votes. And indeed it says to us that – the 3 says ‘an officer of parliament shall give to each member present a ballot paper on which the member may record his vote by writing the name of the person for whom he wishes to vote.’
“And then it says, ‘each ballot paper shall be folded in such a manner that the name written on it cannot be seen.’ And that is order 9.5. And that is what we have always been doing.”
He stated that the House could have resisted voting in such a manner as it didn’t reflect what was prescribed in the Standing Orders of Parliament.
He added that the Parliamentary Service had also failed to justify the reason behind printing the ballot sheets.
Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said, “when we walked into the chamber, they had printed the names out already. That was a departure from even the normal practice.
“The ballots were special ballots so I asked them ‘why are you departing from this? Why do you not have those ballots without any names written on them?’ and they said they have no such ballots, that is without the names printed.
“So I said okay in that case we’re going to conform to this even though strictly we ought to have rejected the process that was imposed on us in the first place because it was a novelty that was unknown for whatever reason.”