The Minority Caucus’ boycott of parliamentary business without an official communication to that effect is a violation of the house’s standing rules, according to Speaker of the House Alban Bagbin.
The Standing Orders of Parliament state that a Member of Parliament must vacate their seat after missing 15 sittings without the Speaker’s permission and being unable to give a valid justification.
The Speaker ruled that the gesture is not appropriate in response to concerns expressed by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the member of parliament for North Tongu, regarding the representation of the Minority being absent without permission in the Votes and Proceedings of Parliament.
“Some MPs have been captured for being absent without permission, some concerns have been raised on the definition of walk-out and boycott. The deputy Minority Whip has raised a very serious matter on the fact that from his knowledge, some members were not present yesterday, but they have been captured as present, as it’s an indictment on the officers of Parliament.”
He added, “On the issue of attendance, Article 97 (1C) is very clear and that is what guides attendance of the house. So you can choose to attend or choose not to attend. When you refuse to attend, depending on your own action, you could be marked as absent or absent with permission. The burden now falls on the group to show evidence that my good self has granted you permission to absent yourselves in writing, not verbally; that any time a colleague of yours wants to attend court proceedings, you will solidarize with that colleague and that you will be absent so that the official report will capture that”.
In support of James Gyakye Quayson’s trial as the representative for Assin North, the minority in parliament once again boycotted parliamentary business on July 11.