Wednesday, October 28, 2009

PARLIAMENT CAN'T BITE ...Appiah-Mensah declares (LEAD STORY)

Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi

THE outspoken politician, Mr Akenten Appiah-Menka, has described Parliament, as structured under the 1992 Constitution, as an appendage of the Executive and recommended the establishment of a constitutional review board to “rescue the Legislature from Executive control”.
He argued that since the 1992 Constitution came into effect, the Majority in each successive Parliament had, without exception, been whipped into accepting anything from the Executive, a development he attributed to the enormous powers the Constitution conferred on the Executive.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Kumasi when the Fifth Parliament under the Constitution resumed sitting yesterday, Mr Appiah-Menka, who is a founder member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), said “both the NDC and the NPP governments are guilty of this”.
He explained that since the Constitution allowed the President to appoint majority of his ministers from Parliament, the Legislature had not been able to assert its independence because of the desire of members to aspire to ministerial positions.
That, he said, had been a serious drawback of the country’s governance and suggested that a body made up of representatives of all the political parties, the National House of Chiefs, the Judiciary, the Trades Union Congress, religious organisations, the Ghana Journalists Association and the Civil Servants Association be formed to remedy it.
He called on the government to wake up to national concerns over what he described as inherent disabilities in the 1992 Constitution and consider setting up an independent national constitutional review body to study the document and bring out the necessary proposals.
Mr Appiah-Menka suggested that Ghana adopt the American system where ministers are selected from outside Parliament so that they could exercise their independence and check abuses, if any, at the Presidency.
He noted that the present Constitution was pregnant with dictatorial tendencies in favour of the Presidency which must be checked.
He also called for the appointment of an Ombudsman to receive and investigate all complaints relating to tribal practices and provide the necessary rulings and recommendations.
Expressing grave concern over the victimisation of a number of innocent Ghanaians in various ways, especially by officialdom and for ethnic reasons, he said the appointment of the Ombudsman called for amendments to the Constitution.
He said he was frightened by the two evils of ethnicity and corruption that were creeping into the body politic of the Fourth Republic.
Mr Appiah-Menka, who is also a member of the Council of Elders of the NPP, accused the two major political parties, the NDC and the NPP, for contributing to the emergence of the “two evils”.
He was not happy about the failure of the two parties to wake up to their national expectations and responsibilities and challenged them to be up and doing.
He said Ghanaians should remember what happened to other African countries as a result of tribalism and corruption and suggested that any amendments to the Constitution should aim at neutralising the canker.
Calling for a national crusade against tribalism, he suggested that at least a day be set aside every month for the nation to condemn tribalism and mobilise national conscience against it.
He also stressed the need for the separation of the Attorney-General’s office from the Ministry of Justice as a way of dealing with corruption.
On how to ensure free and fair elections, Mr Appiah-Menka indicated that the best way was to introduce the electronic voting system, saying that the question of support in that regard should not be a problem once the Electoral Commission put in a request to the government.

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