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Ghana Opposition Legislators to Boycott Vetting Mahama Nominees

Ghanaian President John Mahama is sworn-in by Chief Justice Georgina Wood (R) at Independence Square, Accra, January 7, 2013.
Ghana’s parliament is scheduled to begin the vetting of Cabinet nominees of President John Dramani Mahama Thursday. But lawmakers from the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) say they will boycott the process because the party is challenging the legality of President Mahama’s election victory December 7.

Deputy minority leader Dominic Nitiwul says his colleagues in parliament support the party’s petition to the Supreme Court challenging Mahama’s victory.

“[Our] Members of parliament will not participate in any deliberation or decision on matters, which would evaporate upon the cessation of President Mahama’s administration…,” said Nitiwul. “Ministers, for example, that would be appointed would obviously go with the outgoing president.”

But, critics say the opposition lawmakers would be shirking their legislative responsibilities by refusing to consider the president’s nominees. They contend that the NPP’s position is an affront to democracy and the people of Ghana.

Nitiwul says the legislators will focus, instead, on other aspects of their job in parliament.

“Our responsibility is also to our constituents and that’s how come we are going to deliberate and continue to participate in decisions, whether it’s legislative of oversight that would stand even if the administration is kicked out by the Supreme Court,” said Nitiwul.

He denied that the party’s position on Cabinet nominees would amount to pre-judging the Supreme Court’s ruling on the election’s legality.

“No general goes to war with a mindset that he is going to lose the war. We think we have a good case and we believe we are going to win. If we participate in this [vetting] then we undermine the very issue we are taking to court,” said Nitiwul.

A leading member of the ruling National Democratic Congress says it will be embarrassing for the minority to participate in the vetting process since the NPP boycotted Mahama’s inauguration.

“The very president that you refused to recognize and that you did not participate in his inauguration, it will be [a] double standard for the NPP to participate in the vetting,” said Sampson Ahi, a member of Parliament’s Appointment’s Committee.

The NPP accused Mahama’s party of voting fraud and called on the Supreme Court to overturn the results of the December election.

The opposition party says it took the action after gathering voter data from more than 26,000 polling stations across the country.

Nitiwul says his party’s legislators would undermine the foundation of the high court petition if they took part in reviewing President Mahama’s Cabinet nominees.

Clottey interview with Dominic Nitiwul, Deputy minority leader
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