6 January 2013

Ghana: Parliament to Reconvene Mid-Night Sunday

The Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana is to sit at midnight on Sunday, January 6, to go through legislative procedure for its dissolution which will pave the way for the commencement of the Sixth Parliament on the morning of Monday, January 7.

About 177 members of the Fifth Parliament would move into the Sixth Parliament as they won their re-election bids in the December 7 Parliamentary election. They will be joined by 97 new entrants in the Sixth Parliament.

The NDC will dominate the Sixth Parliament with 148 seats, with the NPP occupying 122 seats and four Independent members in the House.

A by-election is expected to be conducted in the next 60 days to elect a new member for the Buem Constituency due to the passing of the MP-elect Henry Kamel, who was also Volta regional Minister.

After the dissolution of the Fifth Parliament on the stroke of midnight of Sunday, the 274 Members-elect would on January 7, elect the First and Second Deputy Speakers, as well as the Speaker of Parliament.

The substantive Speaker will on the morning of the January 7, swear in the new MPs as dictated by the Constitution, into the Sixth Parliament.

There was initial confusion over the timeline for the dissolution of the Fifth Parliament and the inauguration of the Sixth Parliament, owing to an inconsistency in a provision in the Presidential (Transition) Act, 2012 (Act 845).

Section 11 (1) of the Act provides that the Clerk of Parliament summons a meeting of the elected members of parliament two days before the dissolution of Parliament to elect the Speaker, Deputy Speakers and take the oaths of office as members.

Section 11(3) of the Act further provides: "The Speaker elected under sub-section (1) and the Members of Parliament who take their oaths of office under that sub-section, assume office subject to the operations of Article 113 of the Constitution, and accordingly take office on the 7th of January following the general election."

Both sections of Act 845 are inconsistent with provisions of the 1992 Constitution. Article 113 (2) states that Parliament shall continue for four years from the date of its first sitting and shall then stand dissolved, indicative that the current Parliament stands dissolved on January 6, 2013, considering that its first sitting was on January 7, 2009.

Article 95 (1) of the Constitution further stipulates: "There shall be a Speaker of Parliament who shall be elected by the Members of Parliament from among persons who are Members of Parliament or who are qualified to be elected as Members of Parliament."

The Fifth Parliament which is due to be dissolved midnight on Sunday, has 230 members, comprising 116 seats for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), 106 seats for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), two seats for the People's National Convention (PNC), one seat for the Convention People's Party (CPP) and three independent seats.

Among the members are 19 women parliamentarians, 13 from the NPP, five from the NDC and one from the CPP.

Six of the members passed on during the Fifth Parliament, the recent one being the MP for Buem, Henry Ford Kamel, who died on Christmas Day, December 25, 2012.

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