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Parliament defends Speaker’s suspension of proceedings despite complaints

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Parliament has defended the suspension of proceedings instead of an indefinite adjournment by Professor Mike Oquaye, the Speaker of Parliament.

In a statement, Parliament has cited the circumstances around the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic as justification for the Speaker’s action.

“What the Speaker did was in recognition of the fact that the whole nation is in a general state of emergency and so it is important that the House acts in a manner that will bring utmost benefit to the welfare of the nation.”

“This point becomes even more poignant as a result of the fact that not being in normal times, the House could be recalled at any time. It is, therefore, necessary, that the House holds itself in readiness for any eventuality,” the statement added.

The Minority in Parliament is currently threatening to drag the Speaker of Parliament to the Supreme Court for what it terms as the Speaker’s illegal conduct in suspending Parliament.

Ordinarily, to end a meeting, the Speaker would adjourn the House indefinitely and under such circumstances, a recall of the House would require a 14-day notice.

But Parliament also cited Standing Order 6 which gives the Speaker room to “make provisions as he deems fit” when there is no explicit direction.

“At the moment, there are no express provisions for the indefinite suspension, nor the adjournment of the House at the end of a Meeting. It is therefore imperative that the Speaker provides the needed direction,” Parliament noted.

It further insisted that the indefinite suspension of the House by the Speaker does not amount to discontinuing the session without dissolving it.

“Indeed the Speaker of Parliament is not vested with the power to prorogue Parliament as per Article 113(1) of the Constitution and if any Speaker did that, it will be null and void. In Parliament, the maxim is that Members agree to disagree and arguments in the House could sometimes be not only vociferous but also forceful.”

The statement from Parliament concluded by saying it “is in communication to resolve the issues for the benefit of the country which remains paramount.”

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