Parliament: How MPs were heavily Whipped in line to Vote CI 126 on Party Lines

Members of Parliament were on Tuesday heavily whipped in line to vote along the entrenched positions taken by the two main political parties with representation in Parliament on the Electoral Commission’s Constitutional Instrument (C.I. 126). The Instrument is to come into force after a sitting of Parliament on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

The C.I. 126 which seeks among others to annul the use of a driver’s license and the old voter ID card as requirement for the registration of a voter in Ghana will now allow the National Passport and the National Identification Card as the only form of identification required for the compilation of the new voters register.

To compensate for the exclusion of these documents which some say cannot be enough proof of citizenship, a registered voter may now guarantee for ten (10) persons to have their names captured on the new voters register.

The debate on the report of the Committee of Subsidiary Legislation of Parliament was very heated as was anticipated since the views of the two major parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) were sharply divided on the issue which fueled the serious tension at the Committee level.

However, after a few back and forth between the Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee, Dominic Akuritinga Ayine and the Ranking Member, Yaw Boaben Asamoa about what should be captured and not captured in their report, the Committee by a majority decision recommended to the House to allow the CI for the Registration of voters to come into force at the expiration of 21 days in accordance with Article 11(7) of the Constitution.

The haggle between the NPP Majority and the NDC Minority over the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (C.I. 126) had to be settled by a head count after the Minority claimed l they were not convinced by the voice votes as was pronounced by the Speaker at the conclusion of the debateo.

The head count went in favor of the Majority side of the House who represented the yes votes. Out of a total number of 198 MPs present during the head count, 92 Members voted No with the rest of the 106 Members voting Yes to approve the report of the Committee.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, invoked Order 113 (2) of the Standing Orders of Parliament to challenge the voice votes of the Speaker. According to the Standing Orders, as soon as the voice votes are challenged, measures would be put in place for a head count to determine exactly the number of people who voted for or against the motion in contention.

The Minority Leader indicated to the House after the Hon. Speaker, Professor Mike Oquaye had pronounced his verdict on the voice votes in favor of the Majority side of the House that,

“Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to you, this is an important constitutional matter. I intend to invoke Order 113 (2) of our Standing Orders and to ask for division on this matter because we want history and posterity to be the judge in this matter.

“So Mr. Speaker, I am asking for a division on this matter so that the records will show that on this faithful day, this is the number of Ghanaians who said that don’t accept passports and national IDs.”

The controversial C.I 126 has further widened the already gaping wedge between the NPP in power and the largest political party in opposition, the NDC due to their entrenched positions on the incoming law which will regulate the compilation of a new voters register by the Electoral Commission (EC).

After the Minority had lost the motion by 92 to 106 votes based on the outcome of the headcount, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, concluded with the following words.

“Mr. Speaker, I don’t intend to speak on the matter. The records will speak for Ghana’s democracy that this is where we stood while we were called to answer as to whether only passports and only national ID cards should be the basis for voter register for a conduct of elections. History will be the better judge.”

Source: Clement Akoloh ||

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