Dafeamekpor’s take on ‘vacant seat’ declaration

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Member of Parliament (MP) for South Dayi Constituency, Dr Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, has disagreed with the call to declare absentee Members of Parliament’s seats vacant.

Following recent absenteeism recorded from some MPs in Parliament, Professor Asare called on the legislature to implement the 2018 Supreme Court ruling on absentee MPs.

The said ruling had it that a lawmaker automatically vacates their seat after 15 continuous days of being absent from the House without permission, in accordance with article 97 of the 1992 constitution.

”So I think the Clerk should, on Monday, write to the Electoral Commission that any MP, not just Adwoa [Safo] who has been absent for more than 15 days, have vacated the seat, and a by-election should be held,” he said.

However, speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express, Dr Dafeamekpor said there ought to be a petition with evidence of absenteeism of a lawmaker before one’s seat can be declared vacant.

“There ought to be a petition, a complainant. Somebody must be complaining pursuant to 97 (1) c that I have evidence that an MP has been absent for more than 15 sitting days so I want an action to be taken on the MP,” he disclosed.

He added that there are procedures that had to be followed before an MP’s seat can be declared vacant per the standing orders of the House.

“There must be a motion moved from the House when the Speaker agrees and a decision is made. It is now moved to the Privileges Committee where the material from the secretariat will materialize.

“A search must be conducted at the secretariate and have evidence of vote of proceedings, so the speaker will write back to say yes pursuant to your letter, the MP has not sought permission from my office. If he had sought permission that ends the matter.

“But if not, the member will be invited to the Privileges Committee to give reasons with an explanation on his absenteeism. It is the Committee that will determine whether or not the explanation is reasonable. But if it’s not reasonable, that is when article 97(1) c will take its full force so, it is not automatic as Prof suggests,” he said.

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