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Monday, 23 July 2012 08:26

Parts of Transitional Act Breach Constitution - Owusu-Ansah

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A Former clerk of Parliament, Mr Rex Owusu-Ansah, has pointed out that section 11 of the Presidential Transitional Act 2012, breachers articles 95 (3) and 112 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.

 

For instance, Articles 112 (1) on sessions of Parliament and how the Speaker of Parliament could by Constitutional Instrument summon Parliament, directly contravened section 11 of the Presidential Transitional Act 2012.

The former clerk of parliament made the observation in the series of seminars on the country’s political and administrative transitions organised by the Institute for Democratic Governance.

It was on the theme: “Reflections on Issues in Political and Administrative Transitions: Parliament in Ghana’s Political and Administrative Transitions”.

Mr Owusu-Ansah said that the contravening section of the Presidential Transition Act directed the clerk of Parliament to summon the house two days before the inauguration of new members after an election.

He explained that the section gave the clerk of parliament powers not imposed by the 1992 Constitution.The powers to summon parliament, was exercised only by a Speaker of Parliament.

Mr Owusu-Ansah said at the time the Act directed the clerk to summon the house, the old Parliament would not have been dissolved, and the new would not have yet been inaugurated, a situation that created an illegality.

He said the issues presented were whether parliament ought to be summoned by the Speaker of the outgoing parliament, who during the lifetime of that parliament could summon by a constitutional instrument, whether the new speaker of the new parliament ought to do so or the clerk.

In his estimation, that role would be better performed by the Speaker of Parliament, as the clerk had no such powers constitutionally, breaching article 95 (3) of the constitution.

Mr Owusu-Ansah, who served in the fourth Republican Parliament for close to 20 years, rising from the position of Assistant Clerk to Clerk of Parliament, also said that from all indications, the executive, seemed to benefit more from the Presidential Transition Act 2012.

He said parliament was the pivot around which political and administrative change-overs revolved, yet the bill had been passed by the house without considering that thought, and primarily passed for the benefit of the executive.

Pertinent issues of transitions in relation to the legislature that had been overlooked and this included resources to parliament as some days to the dissolution of parliament, when the executive was engaged in campaigns to be re-elected, the legislature was left in a wild goose chase for funds in carrying out its business.

Also, there were several uncompleted assignments before committees and the plenary of the house that needed to be attended to but were left undone at the dissolution of parliament.

Mr Owusu-Ansah said sometimes such assignments deemed as not vital or unpopular were shelved to be stalled by the dissolution of the house.

He also mentioned how transitions could affect the institutional memory of the house when there were large numbers of experienced parliamentarians being voted out and also how some regalia of the house needed to be passed on to the on-coming government.

Mr Owusu-Ansah, however, commended the passage of the bill. He said it was a feat in the lifetime of all parliaments of the country.

He made specific mention of provisions setting up the Presidential Commission, the processes of handing over notes covering government liabilities and assets and an estate commission to take stock of assets.

He said these provisions were the best sections of the Act, however, the introduction of an estate commission to oversee state building could entrench the dependence of parliament on the executive, as the legislature depended on that unit for its infrastructural needs.

The resident scholar of IDEG, Prof Kwame Ninsin, said the institute was committed to interrogating all the issues presented by transitions to avoid the rancour and acrimony that had characterised the transitions of 2001 and 2009.

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