Legal practitioner, Kofi Bentil has tasked members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) to elevate some state ceremonies above partisanship.
His comments come after the Minority in Parliament walked out on the President during the 2020 State of the Nations Address (SONA).
According to Mr. Bentil, boycotts during such events makes the country look like a failed state.
“When you see these march passes and ceremonies of state where the Chief Justice comes dressed up, it looks like it is frivolous but it is a representation of the state and your ability to carry that out, connect with it, the ability to bring the whole nation together,” he said on Newsfile, Saturday.
He told Samson Lardy Anyenini, host of the show, that the ritual ceremonies may not be tied to the law but they are a testament to stability and viability of the nation.
“So when you do these things you just undermined everything. Let not everyone take it lightly, it is an embarrassment,” Kofi Bentil added.
Throughout Ghana’s 4th republic, the NPP and the NDC have walked out of Parliament on numerous occasions as a protest against some decisions the government in power has taken.
The NPP in 2013 who were then the Minority, boycotted the State of the Nation Address delivered by the then President, John Dramani Mahama. Their action was in line with their position not to engage in any activity that would appear to give legitimacy to Mr. Mahama’s presidency until the Supreme Court ruled on the petition brought before it, which was then challenging the results of the 2012 presidential election.
The NDC also boycotted the State of the Nation Address on February 20, 2020. They were protesting a number of issues including the government’s failure to release some five percent of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund, the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence and concerns they have raised regarding the Electoral Commission’s bid to create a new voters’ register.
The Senior Vice President of IMANI-Africa stated that although the walkouts are a legitimate tool of protest because they have exhausted every option to get their views across to the majority, they should realise their walkout does not only affect them but the nation as a whole.
According to him, the parties have a right to demonstrate or boycott parliamentary sessions but not all of it is beneficial.
Mr. Bentil stated that a conscious effort should be made by having one party start a virtuous circle where they declare to never do that.
“Again my point is you have a reason why you are upset and want to protest but I want them to reflect on the fact that is is not just about them…so they should choose and pick. But this is not good for me and its definitely not the best way to do it.”