The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has clarified that the boycott of Parliamentary business by the Minority caucus without an official communication to that effect is a breach of the Standing Orders of the house.
The Standing Orders of Parliament stipulate that a Member of Parliament shall vacate his or her seat after being absent for 15 sittings, without permission by the Speaker and is unable to provide a reasonable explanation to the effect.
Reacting to concerns raised by the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, about the representation of the Minority being absent without permission in the Votes and Proceedings of Parliament, the Speaker ruled that the gesture is not justified.
“Some MPs have been captured for being absent without permission, some concerns have been raised on the definition of walk-out and boycott. The deputy Minority Whip has raised a very serious matter on the fact that from his knowledge, some members were not present yesterday, but they have been captured as present, as it’s an indictment on the officers of Parliament.”
He added, “On the issue of attendance, Article 97 (1C) is very clear and that is what guides attendance of the house. So you can choose to attend or choose not to attend. When you refuse to attend, depending on your own action, you could be marked as absent or absent with permission. The burden now falls on the group to show evidence that my good self has granted you permission to absent yourselves in writing, not verbally; that any time a colleague of yours wants to attend court proceedings, you will solidarize with that colleague and that you will be absent so that the official report will capture that”.
The Minority in Parliament, on July 11, once again boycotted business activities in Parliament in support of the trial of James Gyakye Quayson, the Member of Parliament for Assin North.