The absence of the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, from the house on Monday night during a sitting on the controversial e-levy bill was not deliberate, Deputy Minority Leader James Klutse Avedzi has said.
He told journalists on Tuesday, 21 December 2021, that Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin’s claim that Mr Bagbin’s absence was part of a grand scheme by the Minority Caucus to frustrate the e-levy, was baseless.
“He [Afenyo Markin] said Bagbin’s absence was a deliberate act to frustrate government business. That is a complete lie. It is not true. We all know Bagbin just returned from Dubai where he went for medical treatment, and he must obey the instructions of his doctors,” Mr Avedzi said.
“If Bagbin was not showing leadership, he would have reversed the wrongs by the first Deputy Speaker, but for the fact that he wanted the country to move on, he said he will not do anything to overturn the decisions, so, for Afenyo-Markin to say that Bagbin is not showing leadership. is very surprising.”
“He is the only person who has served Parliament for 28 good years. Everybody should disregard the comments from Afenyo-Markin in relation to the leadership style of Bagbin.”
Meanwhile, Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has said First Deputy Speaker Joe Osei-Owusu was excusing himself during Monday night’s sitting to take his medication and go to the washroom but not necessarily to take part in the voting process.
The house was thrown into chaos amidst fisticuffs during a vote on the e-levy bill.
The free-for-all brawl started after the Minority tried stopping Mr Osei-Owusu, who was presiding over the business of the house, from going onto the floor to take part in the vote.
According to Mr Kyei-Menash-Bonsu, however, the Bekwai MP was not well and, so, needed a respite during the balloting on the floor about whether or not the controversial 1.75 per cent e-levy should be considered under a certificate of urgency.
“Is it the case that a speaker can’t even excuse himself to visit the loo? Is it the case?” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu asked in an interview with the parliamentary press.
“The man was indisposed”, he noted, adding: “He was shivering”.
“And he went to the clinic; the record is there. So, we had to persuade him to come and sit. He was in the chamber and he was shaking like a leaf.”
“We had to go and prevail on him to come and preside”, the Suame MP stressed.
“Of course”, he pointed out, “if he’s presiding, given his own long tenure in Parliament, his own understanding of the rules and procedures in Parliament, we thought that he’d be able to navigate crises periods, with respect, much more than the second deputy speaker but it was getting too much for him”.
“So, he said he wanted to excuse himself to take his medication and then, perhaps, to come back if he felt okay, or, perhaps, maybe to sit somewhere,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.
Asked if Mr Osei-Owusu was not excusing himself so he could take part in the voting on the floor, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu retorted: “What if he did? What if he did to take his medication and he came, voting was not over and he thought that because somebody else what presiding he could participate in that? What of that? Is there any illegality in that? There’s no illegality”.