Italy parliament fails to elect state president in slap to Bersani

Italy’s parliament failed to elect a new state president in the first two votes on Thursday, with a center-left rebellion against leader Pier Luigi Bersani torpedoing his official candidate and prolonging political stalemate.

Until the new president is elected, the paralysis hobbling attempts to form a government since February’s inconclusive general election will continue but a chaotic day of voting on Thursday showed how fractured the political landscape remains.

Bersani’s candidate Franco Marini, a former Senate speaker, fell far short of the required two-thirds majority of the 1,007 electors in the first vote and in the second he won no votes at all, with many members of both center-left and center-right blocs casting blank ballots.

Political sources said the casting of blank ballots was intended to protect Marini from further humiliation after a center-left rebellion against his candidacy made it impossible to win the two thirds majority of electors from both houses of parliament plus regional representatives.

Marini’s failure, in a vote which is key to filling a government vacuum since the deadlocked general election in February, was a slap in the face for Bersani. He badly split his party by nominating Marini in a deal with center-right boss Silvio Berlusconi.

Bersani told reporters he would meet the center-left electors to decide their next move ahead of a third vote on Friday morning. After that vote, a simple majority is required to elect a new president.

Bersani said he needed to accept that the election had entered “a new phase”, indicating Marini, 80, would be dropped as a deeply divisive candidate. The center-left would make a new proposal for the presidential election, he said.

Many rebellious center-left parliamentarians voted in the secret ballot for academic Stefano Rodota, candidate of the populist 5-Star Movement of former comic Beppe Grillo.

Nichi Vendola, head of Bersani’s leftist ally SEL, said nominating Marini was a mistake. “Marini was a candidate who united the center right, not the center left,” he said.

He said unless things changed, his 46 representatives would keep voting for Rodota.

Marini’s failure could wreck Bersani’s deal with Berlusconi which is aimed at helping him form a minority government.

Bersani has repeatedly refused to agree to Berlusconi’s demands that they form a broad coalition together. But it is widely believed he wants to parley an agreement on the presidency with center-right willingness to support a minority center-left government.


The vote for a successor to President Giorgio Napolitano, whose term ends on May 15, is a crucial step towards resolving the stalemate since an inconclusive election in February which left no party with enough support to form a government.

However the choice of Marini provoked fury in Bersani’s Democratic Party (PD) and an open revolt by his rival, Matteo Renzi, the 38-year-old mayor of Florence.

Renzi had described the 80-year-old Marini as “a candidate from the last century” who had no charisma or international standing, adding that he was only chosen because he was acceptable to Berlusconi.

“The PD is in fragments, it doesn’t exist anymore,” Renato Brunetta, the parliamentary leader of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party, told Canale 5 television.

Failure to win the election of a candidate like Marini who is acceptable to Berlusconi could lead to the PD abandoning hopes of a deal with the center right and going for a candidate like former Prime Minister Romano Prodi, one of Berlusconi’s oldest political enemies.

Such an outcome is widely seen as likely to lead to an election within months.

The head of state is a largely ceremonial figure but has a number of vital political functions, as Napolitano demonstrated in 2011 when he put Mario Monti at the head of a government of technocrats to replace the scandal-plagued Berlusconi.

It will be up to the new president to end the political deadlock left by the election, either by persuading the parties to come to an accord that would allow a government to be formed or by dissolving parliament and calling a new national vote.

February’s election gave Bersani’s center-left alliance control of the lower house of parliament but short of the Senate majority it needed to form a government.

The 61-year-old former industry minister has faced growing pressure from Renzi and others in his party after throwing away a 10-point opinion poll lead before the vote.

Source: Reuters


Parliament explains ex gratia payment

Parliament on Tuesday said, though Members of Parliament (MPs) have received some payment effected in accordance with requirements under Article 71 of the Constitution, the payments did not cover only ex gratia.

A statement issued by the Parliamentary Service in Accra said: “The payments also included salary arrears and other statutory payment.”

The statement said the attention of Parliament has been drawn to some distortions and misrepresentation in a section of the media regarding the payment of ex gratia to members of the Fifth Parliament.

“Parliament wishes to further state that although these payments have been due as far back as 2009, they were never paid in bulk.”

It said the payments were received in four tranches, the first instalment being in November 2012, adding: “Parliament would therefore like to state these facts in the hope that, they would appropriately guide ongoing discussions.”

Source: GNA


Parliament approves formula for distributing MMDAs common fund

Parliament on Tuesday approved a new formula proposed by the administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund for its distribution.

This is in accordance with Section 7A of the District Assembly Common Fund Act 1993 (455).

It, among other things, stipulates that the administrator of the Fund is expected to propose annually to Parliament a formula for sharing the Common Fund to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

The over GH¢1 billion is expected to be shared among 216 MMDAs.



Parliament approves nomination of 35 deputy ministers-designate

Parliament on Monday approved by consensus the nomination of 35 personalities appointed by President John Mahama to deputy ministerial positions.

The nominees were approved after the House adopted the Reports of the Appointments Committee of Parliament during an emergency meeting of the Legislature.

The appointees include Dr Dominic Amine, Justice and Attorney-General’s Department, Ms Barbara Sera Asamoah, Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Education, Mr Felix Kwakye Ofosu, Information and Media Relations, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, Finance, Mr George Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, Finance, Mr Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Mr Emmanuel Kwadwo Agyekum, Local Government and Rural Development and Dr Bernice Adiku Heloo, Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation,

The rest are Mrs Joyce Bawah Mogtari, Transport, Mr Ebenezer Okletey Terlabi, Defence, Dr Alfred Sugri Tia, Health, Mr Alex Kyeremeh, Education, Mr Yaw Effah-Baafi, Lands and Natural Resources, Mr James Agalga, Interior, Mr Vincent Oppong-Asamoah, Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Sampson Ahi, Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Joseph Yammin, Youth and Sports, Dr Musheibu Mohammed-Alfa, Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mr John Abdulai Jinapor, Energy and Petroleum and Mr Benjamin Dagadu, Energy and Petroleum.

The others are Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, Food and Agriculture, Mr Murtala Muhammed Ibrahim, Information and Media Relations, Mr Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, Trade and Industry, Ms Victoria Lakshmi Hamah, Communications, Baba Jamal Mohammed Ahmed, Local Government and Rural Development, Mr John Alexander Ackon, Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs, Mr Isaac Adjei Mensah, Roads and Highways, Ms Ablah Dzifah Gomashie, Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mr Antwi-Bosiako Sekyere, Employment and Labour Relations, Alhaji Bashir Fuseini Alhassan, Northern Region, Mrs Benita Sena Okity-Duah, Gender, Children and Social Protection, Dr Hannah Louisa Bisiw, Food and Agriculture, Mr Aquinas Tawaih Quansah, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and Ms Rachel Florence Appoh, Gender, Children and Social Protection.

The Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, who is also the First Deputy Speaker who moved the motion for the adoption of the reports of the committee told the House that the nominees appeared before the committee and answered questions on pertinent issues relevant to their positions and after carefully scrutinising them they were recommended by consensus to be approved and appointed.

The House is also expected during the two-day emergency sitting to adopt the Report of the Committee on the proposed formula for distributing the District Assemblies’ Common Fund for the fiscal year.

Source: GNA


Parliament approves appointment of deputy regional ministers

Parliament on Tuesday approved the appointment of nine personalities nominated by President John Dramani Mahama for deputy regional ministerial positions.

The nine were vetted last week by the Parliament’s Appointments Committee.

They are Justice Samuel Adjei, Brong Ahafo Region, Samuel Yaw Adusei, Ashanti Region, Isaac Djanmah Vanderpuiye, Greater Accra and Queenstar Pokua Sawyer, Central Region.

The others are Mavis Ama Frimpong, Eastern Region, Francis Ganyaglo, Volta Region, Abu Kasangbata, Upper West Region and David Aweyue Syme, Upper East Region.

Source: GNA


Parliament expected to rise sine die for Easter

Parliament is expected to rise sine die on Friday March 22, 2013 for the Easter break.
Mr Benjamin Kunbuor, Majority Leader and Minister for Government Business announced this on the floor of Parliament when he read the business statement for the week ending Friday March 22, 2013.

He said judging from the state of business, the House would sit on Monday, March 18, 2013 and that sittings would also be extended beyond the prescribed period during the week.

He said motions on estimates on Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), whose reports were presented before schedule, may be taken during the week and Bills may be presented to the House for first reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance with Order 119 while papers and committee reports would also be presented.

He entreated the various committees to expedite work on estimates of MDAs and other Institutions and report same in good time for consideration at plenary to enable the House to take the appropriation Bill, 2013 through the various stages on Friday, March 22, 2013.

 Source: GNA     


Parliament approves 3 regional ministers

The Appointments Committee of Parliament has approved three nominees of President John Dramani Mahama to be regional ministers.

The three – Julius Debrah for the Eastern Region, Dr Ephraim Avea Nsoh for the Upper East Region and Helen Adjoa Ntoso for the Volta Region – were vetted last week.

The motion for their approval was moved on the floor of Parliament House on Thrusday by First Deputy Speaker Ebo Barton-Oduro, who also chairs the vetting committee.

While Julius Debrah promised tourism expansion in the Eastern Region during his vetting, Dr Avea Nsoh pledged a programme that will help the poor in the Region.

Honourable Ntoso, on her part, promised to continue from where the late regional minister, Henry Ford Kamel reached, by dedciating herself to resolving the tribal disputes.

The three will wait for their swearing-in to be administered by President Mahama.




Minority may find themselves out of Parliament – Bagbin

Minority Leader of the Fourth Parliament of the Fourth Republic Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has hinted that the actions of the Minority Members of Parliament may land them outside the House.

The Member of Parliament for Nadowli Kaleo has, therefore, given his backing to three Ghanaian citizens, who have filed a writ at the Supreme Court to get it to declare the 123 seats of the New Patriotic Party’s members vacant.

The three are also seeking interpretation of some articles in the 1992 Constitution.

Speaking on TV3 News on Wednesday, the immediate past Minister of Health condemned semblances the Minority draws from his press conference in 2002 after then president, John Agyekum Kufuor delivered the state-of-the-nation address.

According to him, it was a mere analysis of the two years of NPP’s government and not an alternative address on the state of the nation.

He mentioned that the actions of the current Minority is unconstitutional.

“The refusal of the Minority to recognize the legality and validity of the election of His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama is unconstitutional,” he stated.

“When the actions of Parliament are within the powers and the procedures of the House, it is a closed book. But when those conducts and actions and activities are infringing on the law, the courts have the right to probe into it and declare.”



Ghana selects reps for Ecowas and Pan-African parliaments

First Deputy Speaker Ebo Barton Oduro will lead a five-member team to represent Ghana at the Pan African Parliament.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Cape Coast North Constituency will be joined by Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak Mohammed, MP for Asawase Constituency and Majority Chief Whip, Juliana Azumah Mensah, MP for Agotime Ziope Constiuency, Dominic Nitiwul, MP for Bimbilla Constiuency and Deputy Minority Leader and Elizabeth Agyemang, MP for Oforikrom Constituency.

The composition of Ghana’s representation was based on the formula for the composition of Committees and Delegations approved by the House on January 9, 2013.

Meanwhile, eight members have also been selected to represent Ghana in the parliament of sub-regional body, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The eight-member delegation will be headed by Deputy Majority Leader Alfred Kwame Agbesi, who is also MP for Ashaiman Constituency.

The other members are Sampson Ahi, MP for Bodi Constituency, Ahmed Ibrahim, MP for Banda Constituency, Dominic Azumah, MP for Garu Constituency and Daniel Botwe, MP for Okere Constituency.

The rest are Fred Opare-Ansah, MP for Suhum, Simon Osei-Mensah, MP for Bosomtwe and Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, MP for Anyaa Sowutuom.

The functions of the Ecowas Parliament are basically advisory, as it is yet to have legislative powers conferred on it.

It was formed in 2000 with a total membership of 120 representatives from member states with Ghana having eight representatives.



I am not new to Parliament – Baba Jamal

Member of Parliament-elect for Akwatia Constituency and Deputy Minister for Tourism Baba Jamal says he is “not nervous at all” going into the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic.

He said his positions as Deputy General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for eight years and Deputy Minister of Information drew him close to proceedings in the House.

Speaking to TV3’s Thomas Addotei Pappoe moments before the Sixth Parliament was inaugurated, the former Deputy Eastern Region Minister said he foresees a cordial relationship unfolding in proceedings in the next Parliament, which inaugurates on January 7, 2013.

“I expect a cross-party consensus building in Parliament,” he noted.

“I must say that from what we are seeing we are going to have that.”

While admitting that winning the Akwatia seat has been “long-in-coming”, Baba Jamal says he will feel “comfortable” in the Sixth Parliament.

“I am completely at home,” he told Thomas Addotei Pappoe.

Baba Jamal won the 2012 Akwatia Constituency Parliamentary Elections at the expense of Dr Kofi Asare on a fourth attempt.