For the first time in the fourth republic, the majority in parliament have walked out from proceedings, leaving the minority to take an important decision for the country; rejecting the 2022 budget.
Predictably, the Majority have cautioned that, whatever took place after their protest, was unconstitutional and a pure brutum fulmen. Some Majority members have even described what the minority did, and especially, the Speaker’s declaration as a joke.
The majority’s argument, according to some of the MP’s, is well-founded in article 104 of the 1992 constitution.
For the avoidance of doubt, article 104 is quoted below;
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, matters in Parliament shall be determined by the votes of the majority of members present and voting, with at least half of all the members of Parliament present.
The position of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which constitute the Majority is that, without their presence, the minority NDC had only 137 members presence, is which less of half of members of Parliament (275) present, as stated in the article above.
Per this, they consider the so-called rejection as null and void. The processes, the Majority envisage, would have to be done again.
But wait, the minority had a different position on the same constitutional provisions.
The bone of contention, or the operational word here, is; “with at least half of all the members of Parliament present”
Those who state a contrary position to that of the NPP say, a member who comes to parliament and registers as being present, but later walks out in protest is still deemed to be present until the business of the day comes to a close.
Walking out of Parliament during proceedings does not make you absent from Parliament. The decision of the house stands as argued by the minority.
Clearly, the battle is not over. It is likely the supreme court would be called into action by the Majority for interpretation, as this is a purely constitutional matter.
But, for now, the 2022 budget stands rejected.