The Minority in Ghana’s Parliament has accused the Speaker, Mr. Edward Doe Adjaho of preventing their efforts to probe the circumstances under which President John Mahama authorized the acceptance of two former detainees from Guantanamo Bay into the country.
Addressing a press conference in the capital on Tuesday, Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Isaac Osei said that thus far the Speaker has willfully blocked all urgent questions filed by members demanding clarity on the matter.
"At least five members have filed urgent questions but the Speaker is yet to admit them,” he said.
Mr. Osei, a leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) said he has also personally submitted queries without any success of seeing them go beyond the floor of parliament.
“I filed an urgent question asking the Minister of Foreign Affairs to detail the circumstances leading to the agreement for Ghana to accept the two detainees,” he said.
Mr. Osei, who is also a Deputy Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, decried that the Speaker has been neglecting the cardinal principles of democracy and accountability by stunting the progress of a legitimate query. He listed instances when inquiries have been put forward but rejected by the Speaker.
“One of my colleagues also filed an urgent question seeking an explanation of the nature of the agreement and the rights and obligations of the two state parties.
“Yet another wished to know what travel documents they came in with; Yemeni, Ghanaian or American?
“What visa entry or resident permit did they enter Ghana with?” he asked.
“Simple questions requiring simple answers and we are unable to ask them on the floor of the House because the Speaker of Parliament has not allowed them," he added.
He contended that since the decision to host the former detainees had security implications that would go beyond the tenure of the president, it behooves President Mahama to offer an explanation to the whole country.
"In many democratic countries, consultations with Parliament, political parties, and civil society would certainly have preceded such a big decision.
“In Ghana, the President takes a decision and we are supposed to button up our lips because it is a fait accompli?" he asked.
The Minority has hinted that President Mahama may have breached the constitution in allowing the two detainees into the country without parliamentary approval.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Hannah Tetteh is scheduled to address the House on the issue on Friday in a closed-door session.
Ghana accepted to host Mammoud Omar bin Atef, Khalid Salih Muhammed Al-Dhuby. The two Yemeni nationals were held by the American government in Guantanamo Bay but were released under President Barack Obama’s programme to shut down the notorious prison.