The deputy minority leader in Ghana’s parliament says it would be illegal for the government to withhold salaries of opposition legislators who boycott some parliamentary activities.
“It would be unlawful for anybody to attempt to withhold our salaries because there would not be a basis for it,” said Dominic Nitiwul. “We are not deterred by the threats at all because this particular government would have no legal basis to do that [and] no moral basis to do that.”
Nitiwul says legislators from the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) will continue to refuse to engage with the presidency until the Supreme Court rules on the party’s petition challenging the final outcome of the December 7 presidential vote.
“To be able to make our case good [and] not to compromise ourselves, we will not engage the government or the executive in any act that would be wiped off if the Supreme Court were to rule against the president,” said Nitiwul.
His comments came after some members of the NPP criticized the legislators from their own party for boycotting parliamentary activities that involves President John Dramani Mahama, including his recent state of the nation address, and boycotting the vetting of his Cabinet nominees.
Critics say the opposition lawmakers are shirking their legislative responsibilities by boycotting parliamentary activities. They contend that the NPP’s position is an affront to democracy and the people of Ghana.
“It is very difficult to say that because somebody decided that he is not going to engage for example two items out of more than a hundred items that person loses his salary,” said Nitiwul.
“We believe that what we are doing will set a pace and a precedence for the rest of Africa to realize that if you have an election dispute, it is not about picking [up] a gun, but that you can actually take the case to court and win that case,” said Nitiwul.
Rules of the Ghanaian parliament enable legislators to be absent from their duties for two weeks, after which sanctions could be applied for their refusal to work. The sanctions include suspension and possible expulsion.
Meanwhile, the minority plans to hold a news conference Wednesday to give its side of the state of the country’s affairs. This comes after the NPP members boycotted President Mahama’s state of the nation address last week.