In a recent development, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has addressed the issue of the Minority caucus boycotting Parliamentary proceedings without prior official communication, stating that this action violates the Standing Orders of the house.
According to the Standing Orders of Parliament, if a Member of Parliament is absent for 15 sittings without permission from the Speaker and fails to provide a valid explanation, they are required to vacate their seat.
Responding to concerns raised by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, regarding the absence of Minority representation in the Votes and Proceedings of Parliament, the Speaker ruled that such a gesture is unjustifiable.
The Speaker highlighted the fact that some MPs had been marked as absent without permission, and there were questions surrounding the definitions of “walk-out” and “boycott.”
“Some MPs have been captured for being absent without permission, some concerns have been raised on the definition of walk-out and boycott. The deputy Minority Whip has raised a very serious matter on the fact that from his knowledge, some members were not present yesterday, but they have been captured as present, as it’s an indictment on the officers of Parliament,” he said.
The Speaker further emphasized the importance of attendance, citing Article 97 (1C) as the guiding principle for the presence of members in the house. He clarified that attending or choosing not to attend is a personal decision, but when a member refuses to attend, depending on their actions, they may be marked as absent or absent with permission.
He said: “On the issue of attendance, Article 97 (1C) is very clear and that is what guides attendance of the house. So you can choose to attend or choose not to attend. When you refuse to attend, depending on your own action, you could be marked as absent or absent with permission. The burden now falls on the group to show evidence that my good self has granted you permission to absent yourselves in writing, not verbally; that any time a colleague of yours wants to attend court proceedings, you will solidarize with that colleague and that you will be absent so that the official report will capture that”.
It is worth noting that on July 11, the Minority in Parliament once again boycotted business activities in support of the ongoing trial of James Gyakye Quayson, the Member of Parliament for Assin North.