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29 September 2016

Mahama can be frustrated but cannot control Parliament – Muntaka

muntakaThe Majority Chief Whip in Parliament says President John Mahama could be frustrated by the delay of the passage of the Right to Information Bill (RTI) but he cannot stampede Parliament into passing it.

Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak’s comments come as a coalition of civil society groups demanding passage of the Right to Information Bill staged what they termed a “silent protest’’ in Accra on Wednesday.

The protest was triggered by President Mahama’s claim at a UNESCO’s International Programme for Development of Communication talks in France, summit that he is frustrated by the delay of the bill.

The Bill, which has been in and out of Parliament for over a decade, is yet to be passed.

It was drafted in 1999 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was not presented to Parliament.

Early this year, Parliament began the consideration of the Bill which is expected to operationalise Article 21(1)(f) of the 1992 Constitution.

The article states, “All persons shall have the right to information, subject to such qualifications and laws, as are necessary for a democratic society”.

Once the RTI bill is passed, the public will have the legal right to access information such as government records, files, registers, maps, data, drawings, reports, among others.

But it doesn’t appear the Bill will be passed anytime soon. The president said the RTI will go down in history as the “legislation that has stayed the longest in Parliament.”

In reaction to the silent protest by advocates for the Bill, the Majority Chief Whip believes the pressure mounted on Parliament and the President is needless as “the right thing must be done” before the Bill can be passed.

“…And now some people want to say that the President should do something about it…what would you want the President to do? To come and force us [Parliamentarians]? The President could be frustrated but the president doesn’t control Parliament,” Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak noted on News Desk on Joy News.

He insisted that Parliament will not “rush things” and will allow their members to contribute if they find any controversial clauses in the bill.

Meanwhile, the Regional Coordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Secretariat for the RTI coalition believes Parliament is not prioritizing the Bill as urged by the Speaker of Parliament.

“If they are saying that because they want to do a good job so the Bill should be dragged, then are they saying the Select Committee did not do a good job?” Mina Mensah quizzed.

She urged the legislators to walk it like they talk it “…and stop giving the rhetoric.”

 

Source: Myjoyonline.com

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