• Politics

    5 major, unprecedented events that shook Ghana’s Parliament in 2024

    Ghana’s Parliament witnessed a series of unprecedented events in the early months of 2024, stirring widespread attention and discussion among citizens.

    From significant resignations to historic moments in parliamentary proceedings, GhanaWeb’s parliamentary correspondent, Nimatu Yakubu Atouyese, highlights happenings that dominated headlines:

    Resignation of Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as Majority Leader

    The resignation of Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, sent shockwaves through the political landscape.

    His decision came after a meeting with President Akufo-Addo amid disagreements over changes to the party’s front bench in Parliament.

    Following the resignation of Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, the Deputy Majority Leader and MP for Efutu, was appointed the new Majority Leader.

    Patricia Appiagyei, the MP for Asokwa, serves as his deputy, and Frank Annoh-Dompreh, the MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, retained the Chief Whip.

    Habib Iddrisu, MP for Tolon, also retained the Deputy Whip, while Alex Tettey Djonobuah, MP for Sefwi Akontombra, was named the Second Deputy Whip.

    Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Ghana’s longest-serving lawmaker, formally announced his resignation during a crucial meeting at the presidency in Accra on Wednesday.

    The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Member of Parliament for Bekwai, Joseph Osei-Owusu, popularly called Joewise, expressed his utmost displeasure at the decision by Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu to resign as Majority Leader on Thursday, February 22.

    Historic moment as Sunyani East MP acts as Speaker of Parliament

    This is the first time this has happened in parliament in a long time, as Cheremeh took over Parliamentary proceedings on Friday, February 16, 2024, without the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, or either of his two deputies.

    In the absence of the leaders of the House, the Clerk of Parliament, Cyril Kwabena Oteng Nsiah, read out Order 12 of the House, requesting that Members of Parliament nominate someone to sit in as the chairperson on the day.

    He explained that following this, the Majority Chief Whip and MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, nominated the Sunyani East MP, Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, to sit in that seat.

    Weeks later, the Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa, Kobina Tahir (K.T.) Hammond, also presided over as the Speaker due to the absence of the three Speakers.

    Passage of the LGBT+ Bill

    Ghana’s parliament unanimously passed the controversial anti-homosexuality bill on Wednesday, February 28, eliciting strong reactions.

    The bill, which was introduced in parliament in 2021, criminalises not only LGBTQ relationships but also those who support LGBTQ rights.

    It also imposes a maximum five-year jail term for forming or funding LGBTQ+ groups.

    Despite its passage, President Akufo-Addo is yet to assent to the bill until the Supreme Court rules on the bill which is pending in the court.

    The Ministry of Finance also urged President Akufo-Addo to refrain from signing the recently passed Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill into law.

    In a statement cited on Monday, March 4, the Finance Ministry cautioned that such action could lead to severe repercussions on the country’s financial support from international organisations like the Bretton Woods Institutions.

    The statement highlighted concerns that the expected US$300 million financing from the First Ghana Resilient Recovery Development Policy Operation (Budget Support), currently awaiting Parliamentary approval, might not be disbursed if the bill is signed into law.

    Freezing of ministerial approval process:

    A historic moment unfolded when the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, announced the suspension of the approval process for new ministerial appointees.

    This unprecedented move was made in response to legal proceedings challenging the nominations, signalling a commitment to upholding the rule of law.

    He said before adjourning the house Sine die, “I bring to your attention, the receipt of a process from the Courts titled Rockson-Nelson Etse K. Dafeamekpor vrs. The Speaker of Parliament and the Attorney-General ( Suit no. J1/12/2024) which process was served on the 19th of March 2024 and an injunction motion on notice seeking to restrain the Speaker from proceeding with the vetting and approval of the names of the persons submitted by His Excellency the President until the provisions of the constitution are satisfied.

    “Hon. Members in the light of this process, the House is unable to continue to consider the nominations of His Excellency the President in the “spirit of upholding the rule of law “ until after the determination of the application for interlocutory injunction by the Supreme Court.”

    Speaker Alban Bagbin’s decision to freeze the approval process for ministers and deputy ministers further intensified parliamentary dynamics which is currently being debated.

    The move came after a directive from the Presidency, leading to tensions within the Majority Caucus in Parliament.

    Nana Bediatuo Asante’s letter to the clerk of Parliament

    In a statement released on Monday, March 18, 2024, Nana Bediatuo Asante, the Executive Secretary to the President, urged parliament to refrain from transmitting the recently passed Anti-LGBT+ Bill to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for assent.

    The presidency cited two pending court applications for an order of interlocutory injunction against the Bill before the Supreme Court.

    He disclosed that the Attorney-General had informed President Akufo-Addo via a letter dated March 18, 2024, regarding the pending legal actions.

    “It has come to the attention of this Office that while the President and other senior officials of the Presidency were at Peduase for a Cabinet Retreat on Thursday, 14th March 2024, you attempted to submit the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, 2024 (the ‘Bill’) to Jubilee House for the President to signify his assent or otherwise to the Bill.

    “This Office is aware of two pending applications for an order of interlocutory injunction, both filed on 7th March 2024 in the Supreme Court in Dr. Amanda Odoi v. The Speaker of Parliament and The Attorney-General (J1/13/2023) and Richard Sky v. The Parliament of Ghana and The Attorney-General (31/9/2024) respectively, to restrain you and Parliament from transmitting the Bill to the President and also to restrain the President from signifying his assent to the Bill, pending the final determination of the matter,” part of the statement said.

    Minority’s threat to boycott State of the Nation Address:

    The Minority in Parliament made headlines with their threat to boycott the State of the Nation Address (SONA) due to President Akufo-Addo’s refusal to sign a Private Member’s Bill. However, following intervention, they returned to the chamber for the address.

    Amid these unprecedented events, the passing of Member of Parliament for Ejisu, John Kumah, casts a sombre shadow over the political landscape.

    His untimely demise leaves a void in Ghana’s parliamentary representation, reminding us of the fragility of life amidst the hustle of politics.

    The Deputy Finance Minister John Kumah of the 45-year-old on Thursday, March 7.

    He is reported to have died in the early hours of Thursday in Germany where he had been receiving medical treatment for some time now.

    Kumah was elected as a Member of Parliament for the Ejisu constituency in the 2020 general election in Ghana under the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

    He was then appointed Deputy Minister of Finance in April 2021.


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