July 19, 2024

Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin

Tensions between the Presidency and Parliament of Ghana have escalated as Speaker Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin takes a firm stand by freezing the approval of the President’s ministerial nominees. This move comes amidst a growing impasse between the two arms of government, highlighting the deepening rift in Ghanaian politics.

The standoff stems from a letter sent to the Clerk of Parliament by Nana Asante-Bediatuo, the Executive Secretary of the President, instructing Parliament to halt the transmission of the Human Sexual Right and Family Values Bill, 2024, to the President for assent—a customary procedure usually ratified by the President. According to the Presidency, they cannot receive the Bill until the court makes a decision on a pending case.

“It would be improper for you to transmit the Bill to the President and equally improper for this Office (the Presidency) to receive the Bill until the Supreme Court determines the matters raised in the suits,” read a portion of Bediatuo Asante’s letter.

In response to the letter’s tone and wording, Speaker Bagbin cited a lawsuit filed by South Dayi Lawmaker, Rockson Etse Dafeamekpor, as the reason for halting the approval process. He stated that Parliament cannot approve the nominees because of the pending court case.

The Speaker’s decision was influenced by the letter from the Presidency, as well as larger concerns regarding governance and constitutional principles of checks and balances. He emphasized the importance of respecting the roles of each branch of government to ensure effective governance.

The freeze on nominee approvals has sparked debate and speculation across political circles, with some viewing it as a bold assertion of parliamentary authority and oversight. Others, however, criticize it as an obstructionist tactic that could disrupt the functioning of government and hinder progress on key issues facing the nation.

At the heart of the dispute lies the question of institutional balance and separation of powers, fundamental principles enshrined in Ghana’s constitution. Speaker Bagbin’s actions underscore Parliament’s role as a check on executive power, highlighting its responsibility to hold the government accountable and uphold democratic principles.

As the impasse continues, both sides are likely to engage in negotiations and political maneuvering to resolve the deadlock. The outcome will not only impact the fate of the President’s nominees but also set a precedent for future interactions between the Presidency and Parliament.

Meanwhile, government lawyer Godfred Yeboah Dame has written to assure the Speaker and Parliament that no adverse consequences will occur if they proceed with the approval of the nominees. He argued that the suit filed by the South Dayi MP was not properly constituted, as there was no statement of case and interlocutory injunction writ attached at the time of his search on March 21, 2024. However, Dafeamekpor and his attorney have promptly filed the necessary processes in support of their case.

In the midst of heightened tensions, Ghanaian citizens are closely watching developments, keenly aware of the implications for their democracy and governance. With the stakes high and tensions mounting, the path forward remains uncertain, underscoring the need for dialogue, compromise, and respect for constitutional norms.

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