Speaker shoots down Minority MPs’ request to be marked absent with permission during boycotts

The Minority’s quest to have their names captured as absent with permission for their recent boycotts has been shot down by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin.

The caucus had in a fierce argument on the floor demanded that their members’ names must be captured as absent with permission whenever they boycott sittings to go to court in support of their colleagues facing prosecution.

Arguing on the floor on Wednesday, the North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said for the accuracy of records, their absence should be captured as a boycott.

This, he says is to avoid creating an impression that the Minority is shirking their responsibilities in Parliament.

“Mr Speaker, we had indicated that anytime our colleagues appear before the courts, we will boycott proceedings and yesterday’s [Tuesday] absence was a boycott, so I thought that it will be captured for the record. Because I recall that the vote and proceedings have captured previous walkouts and boycotts so I rise to seek your guidance on this matter for accuracy sake so that the impression is not created that we just are absenting and not working,” he said.

Also, the Deputy Minority Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim supported the demand to be captured as absent with permission because the Speaker’s permission was sought.

“Mr Speaker, if you read through our Standing Orders clearly, that position by him [Minority Leader ] must be registered in the vote and proceeding that yesterday the Minority Caucus boycotted proceedings on this floor.

“Mr Speaker, with permission, I refer you to order 34 (1) – the minutes of proceedings of Parliament, votes and proceedings shall be a record of the attendance of members at each sitting. Mr Speaker, the record of attendance at yesterday’s [Tuesday] sitting was that the Minority boycotted and we were not here and must be reflected in the vote and proceedings.”

He further claimed that in the absence of some members of the Majority Caucus, they were recorded as present.

But the Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin, denied the request describing it as ‘ill-conceived’.

According to the Speaker, the table office is right in marking the NDC MPs absent without permission per the rules of the House.

He added that for the Speaker to grant such permission, it must be in writing, noting that “it is what guides attendance in the House.”

“So, you can choose to attend and you can choose not to attend. Now when you choose not to attend, depending on your own action, you could be marked as absent and that means without permission or absent with permission. Now with permission, means that there is evidence not oral but in writing that the Speaker has granted you that permission to be absent and so the burden will now shift unto you as a group to show evidence that my good self has granted you permission to absent yourselves in writing.

“We have two documents – one is the official report, the official report will definitely capture what the Minority Leader stated that day. That anytime a colleague of yours is to attend court proceeding, you will solidarise with that colleague and you will be absent …so I think the table office is right in saying that you’ve been absent without permission,” he said.

Source: MyJoyOnline.com

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