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NPP and NDC battle for speakership of eighth parliament tonight ahead of House’s inauguration

This article looks at what is likely to transpire in the House tonight in the lead-up to the election of a Speaker of Parliament

Story Highlights
  • "From the foregoing and considering that the 7 December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections resulted in the NPP and the NDC, winning 137 seats apiece with one independent candidate (bringing the total number of Parliamentarians to 275), there is likely to be surprises in the House if the two sides do not settle on a compromised candidate and choose to go the way of a secret ballot to elect the next Speaker."

The eighth parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana is set to be inaugurated in the small hours of 7 January 2021. The identity of the Speaker is still far from certain, even though the odds are slightly tilted towards the candidate of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Today’s granting of an injunction by the high court in Cape Coast preventing the former MP-elect for Assin North from being sworn in, on the basis of a challenge that he remained a Canadian citizen at the time of filing his candidacy, reduces the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to 136 MPs-elect.

Ghanaian MPs are not allowed to hold any other citizenship.

This is a big boost for the NPP, which has 137 MPs-elect in the bag, plus the independent MP-elect for Fomena, who has agreed to sit with the NPP.

However, anxiety remains over who will secure the speakership. Some, especially on the NDC side, are still pushing for a compromise candidate.

As of 2pm today (6 January 2021), the NPP, which is set to form the next government, has nominated the Speaker of the seventh parliament, Right Honourable Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, to remain in the chair in the eighth parliament.

On the other hand, the NDC, Ghana’s main opposition party, has nominated Alban Kingsford Sumani Bagbin, the current second deputy speaker of the seventh parliament and outgoing MP for Nadowli Kaleo in the Upper West Region, to become the Speaker of the eighth parliament.

From the foregoing, and considering that the 7 December 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections resulted in the NPP and NDC winning 137 seats apiece, with one independent candidate (bringing the total number of MPs to 275), there are likely to be surprises in the House if the two sides do not settle on a compromise candidate and choose to vote by secret ballot to elect the next Speaker.

Disagree about proposed names

Sources on either side of the political divide (NPP and NDC) tell Asaase Radio that there may be some NPP MPs-elect who are not in favour of the National Council’s choice of Speaker for their party in the eighth parliament – Right Honourable Professor Michael Oquaye.

They may, therefore, be tempted to vote against him in a secret ballot as the eighth parliament is constituted at midnight on 7 January 2021.

In similar fashion, elements among the now 136 MPs-elect (minus Assin North) on the NDC side are not in support of the name proposed by their party leadership for the role of Speaker (Alban Kingsford Sumani Bagbin). They, too, may dissent in the vote on his nomination.

Three-line whip

Both sides of the House will apply a three-line whip: in effect, a strict instruction, issued by the leadership of the two parties represented in the House, to attend and vote according to the NPP’s position without fail.

MPs-elect on both sides have been “camped”, with those not yet domiciled in Accra being booked into hotels in the capital city.

The three-line whip should also apply to the independent MP-elect for Fomena in the Ashanti Region, Andrew Asiamah Amoako.

Compromise candidates

Names such as Papa Owusu Ankomah, Ghana’s immediate past high commissioner to the United Kingdom, who is also a former MP respected by both sides, and Jones Dotse, senior justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana, are believed to be potential compromise candidates.

A selection of one of these names could avert any showdown tonight.

A stalemate could gravely disturb the inauguration of the eighth parliament of the Fourth Republic, which would automatically delay the swearing-in of President Akufo-Addo later in the day.

The NPP side has the upper hand and is more confident of having its man sworn in as Speaker.

Wilberforce Asare

Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online
#asaaseradio  #TVOL

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