The Minority side in Parliament is unhappy with a decision by the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye to suspend the House instead of adjourning sittings.
Parliamentarians were supposed to go on a recess beginning today, Saturday, April 4, 2020.
Instead of adjourning sittings sine die [indefinitely], the Speaker of Parliament suspended sittings sine die; a decision that did not go down well with the Minority MPs.
Per the Standing Orders of the House, if sittings were adjourned sine die, the Speaker would have to give MPs at least two weeks notice before the House could be recalled.
But with the indefinite suspension, the House could reconvene at any time to deal with an urgent business that may arise.
Prof. Oquaye explained that the decision was taken following the COVID-19 outbreak which could compel Parliament to be recalled at any time to attend to urgent business.
“…We are suspending Sitting on this day, and this Honourable House will stand suspended until the Speaker, in consultation with the leadership of the House deem it fit to ask the House to resume sitting. This action is unprecedented but indeed we are living in unprecedented times and the whole Ghana State is in a State of National Emergency,” he said.
“Hon. Members, we are not rising today but we are suspending sitting indefinitely. If we should rise, then on any emergency where our intervention will be required we may need two weeks notice according to the Constitution and the Standing Orders. Once sitting is suspended we can ask the House to proceed to work in a day or two,” the Speaker explained the rationale for his decision.
Oquaye’s decision illegal
But the Minority insists that the decision is illegal and the Speaker does not have the power to suspend the house indefinitely.
“Prof. Mike Oquaye…has become a walking illegality and a threat to parliamentary democracy in the country. I will remind him that he is not the House and it is not for nothing that the Standing Orders in Order 42 provide that he (Speaker) should consult the House and not even the leaders [were consulted],” Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu told the media after the suspension of the House.
Majority Leader defends Oquaye
But the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensa Bonsu justified the Speakers decision indicating that it is necessary considering that “we are not in normal times.”
“Given the fact that we are not in normal times, he (Speaker) applied himself to Order 6 which provides in all cases not provided for in these Orders, the Speaker shall make provisions as he deems fit which is the suspension of the House indefinitely. Now if he has to suspend the House, ordinarily, he (Speaker) would have to consult with the leaders. Over the past two weeks, my colleague (Minority Leader) for some reasons decided not to see the Speaker and when the Speaker calls for pre-sitting meetings, he (Minority Leader) and his leadership don’t attend those meetings. In that regard, how was he (Speaker) to consult him (Minority Leader) who has decided not to avail himself to the Speaker?” the Majority Leader quizzed.