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Judgment affirming Deputy Speakers’ right to vote was an open and shut case – Akufo-Addo


President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said he expected the Supreme Court to affirm the right of Deputy Speakers of Parliament to vote in Parliament even when they are presiding as Speaker.

In an address on Facebook, President Akufo-Addo said it was an open and shut case.

“The noise that was generated, at the time I was extremely surprised, because as far as I can see, and I think the Supreme Court has confirmed it, the matters involved in this thing are open and shut.”

“They are black and white. There can be no dispute about the issues the gentleman took to the Supreme Court,” he said.

The judgment was given in a case brought by a law professor, Justice Abdulai, who was contesting the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu’s, decision to count himself as forming a quorum for a vote on the budget.

The president also noted that, in some other jurisdictions, Speakers who are members of the legislature are allowed to vote.

“They are members of the assembly. Our Speaker is expressly not a member of the assembly. That is why he doesn’t have the right to vote.”

“If you are denied the right to vote, it is tantamount to denying the right of the people you represent to have a say in the decision of the assembly,” President Akufo-Addo added.

The judgment backed the position of Mr. Osei-Owusu, who defended his decisive vote in the approval of the 2022 budget, although he was presiding as Speaker.

The Court also struck down order 109 (3) of the Standing Orders of Parliament, describing it as unconstitutional.

On November 30, last year, Mr. Osei-Owusu, who also the Bekwai MP, presided over the overturning of an earlier vote of the House rejecting the government’s 2022 Budget.

Reaction to judgment 

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, called the judgment in the case a travesty of justice and a sign that the judiciary has failed the country’s parliamentary democracy.

Mr. Iddrisu also said the decision signifies judicial support to the government to pass the e-levy.

Former President John Mahama also criticised the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision, describing it as “shocking but not surprising”.

But the First Deputy Speaker welcomed the judgment, describing it as refreshing.

Mr. Osei-Owusu also said he will continue to interpret the constitution and the standing orders of Parliament as he understands it.

The Attorney General, Godfred Dame, also said reasoning had prevailed with this judgment.

“I think the reasoning by the Supreme Court is clearly sound and is in accord with the practice in other jurisdictions around the world,” he said.

“Nowhere in the constitution has any statement been made that whenever a deputy speaker presides, he loses his right to vote,” Mr. Dame argued.

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