7 January 2013

Ghana: Mumuni Rejects First Speaker

He was seen as one of the loyal ministers who served in the Atta Mills government and was never reshuffled by the departed president who appointed him as his foreign minister. He fought tooth and nail to re-enter Parliament, but plans by his colleagues to reward him with the post of First Deputy Speaker of Parliament has reportedly been rejected by Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni.

Alhaji Mumuni, who was a parliamentarian between 2000 and 2004, did not seek re-election after being nominated by the then presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Evans Atta Mills, to partner him in the 2004 presidential elections. Unfortunately, NDC failed to win the elections, as they were beaten by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate, John Agyekum Kufuor, who was the incumbent President then.

The late President Mills, however, decided to change Mumuni in 2008, and replaced him with the current President John Dramani Mahama. The pair succeeded in winning the election after which Mumuni was offered the juicy post of Foreign Minister, a position he has held to date. The newly-elected Member of Parliament for Kumbugu in the Northern Region, therefore, sees his appointment as First Deputy Speaker as a demotion, and is therefore, unwilling to accept the offer.

Efforts made by The Chronicle to get Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni to comment on the development proved futile. After failing to answer calls put through his cellular phone, a text message was sent to him, but he responded hours later that he was in a meeting and could therefore not talk. Joy FM, however, quoted the Foreign Minister as denying that he had rejected the position of first Deputy Speaker of Parliament offered him by his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

According to Joy News, the MP-elect for Kumbungu said he was yet to be officially approached for the position of first Deputy Speaker of Parliament by his party. He further stated that it was only when he is approached by the party that he would consider accepting the position or not.

The Chronicle, however, gathered that the position of First Deputy Speaker has now been handed over to Mr. Ebo Barton Odro, the out-gone Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General who is also the Member of Parliament for Cape Coast North. It is, however, unclear if President Mahama would offer a new juicy appointment to his immediate past Foreign Minister.

This reporter gathered from independent sources that the top hierarchy of party wanted to ensure a regional balance of power, hence the appointment of Doe Adjaho as Speaker of Parliament. A source, which spoke to The Chronicle, said with the President coming from the Northern half of the country, and his vice from the Central Region, the next in line to pick the position of Speaker is the Volta Region. This accounted for the reason why all three names that came for the Speaker's post -Dr. Obed Asamoah, Doe Adjaho and Ken Dzirasah- are all from the Volta Region.

But, whilst Mumuni appears unamused with his appointment, Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor, who until recently, was the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, has accepted the new position as Majority Leader in Parliament. Kunbuor was first appointed Deputy Minister for Health, and rose through the ranks to become the Attorney General in the Atta Mills government. He was expected to be confirmed last night, together with Alfred Agbeshie, MP for Ashaniman, who is expected to be his deputy.

Mohammed Muntaka, the re-elected member for Asawase in the Kumasi metropolis, had been penciled as Chief Whip, with Sampson Ahi as his Deputy. Meanwhile, intensive lobbying is going on to catch the eyes of the President for the various positions in government. Whilst Ofosu Ampofo, the outgoing Minister for local Government and Rural Development, his deputy, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, Hannah Tetteh and Kofi Adams, have ministerial appointments reserved for them in the new government, the President has kept the rest of the names and the positions they would occupy to his chest.

After his swearing in this morning, the President would first constitute the Council of State whose members he would consult before making any appointments. There are speculations that Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), would become the next Attorney General and Minister of Justice to succeed Benjamin Kunbuor.

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