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The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin’s absence in the House on Monday night was not a deliberate attempt to frustrate government business, Deputy Minority Leader, James Klutse Avedzi has said.
Addressing journalists on Tuesday, December 21, 2021, after parliament adjourned sitting to January 18, 2022, Mr. Avedzi said Alban Bagbin’s absence was purely based on health grounds.
He was responding to the Deputy Majority Leader, Afenyo Markin’s claim that Bagbin ‘s absence throughout the first part of last night’s sitting to debate on the e-levy appeared to be part of a grand plan by the minority to frustrate the approval of the e-levy bill.
“He [Afenyo Markin] said Bagbin’s absence was a deliberate act to frustrate government business. That is a complete lie. It is not true. We all know Bagbin just returned from Dubai where he went for medical treatment, and he must obey the instructions of his doctors,” Mr. Avedzi said.
He also dismissed Afenyo-Markin’s claim suggesting that Alban Bagbin had failed to show leadership amid the controversy surrounding the passage of the 2022 budget.
“If Bagbin was not showing leadership, he would have reversed the wrongs by the first Deputy Speaker, but for the fact that he wanted the country to move on, he said he will not do anything to overturn the decisions, so for Afenyo-Markin to say that Bagbin is not showing leadership is very surprising.”
“He is the only person who has served Parliament for 28 good years. Everybody should disregard the comments from Afenyo-Markin in relation to the leadership style of Bagbin.”
The debate on the controversial e-levy bill in Parliament was expected to bring finality to an arguably long-standing disagreement over the 2022 Budget, but it ended up in a brawl as some MPs exchanged blows.
While taking votes on whether the E-levy bill should be taken under a certificate of urgency, the minority got infuriated over an attempt by the presiding Speaker, Joe Osei-Owusu to leave the chair to cast his vote.
The Minority had earlier argued that per parliament’s standing orders, the Speaker of Parliament does not have a casting vote, however, Joe Osei Owusu indicated that he would still vote.
The brawl saw dozens of the opposition parliamentarians exchange fisticuffs with their colleagues on the majority side while some officials of parliament tried to protect the Speaker’s seat and the mace of parliament from being attacked.
However, calm returned moments after, before the Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Asiamah, adjourned the sitting.