Parliament has written to the Electoral Commission (EC) to notify it of the vacancy in the Assin North constituency.
THE Clerk to Parliament, Cyril Kwabena Nsiah, signed the letter dated May 29, 2023, which was addressed to the Chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensa.
The notification, he said, had been necessitated by the judgement of the Supreme Court (SC) dated May 17, 2023.
He, therefore, requested the EC Chairperson to take the appropriate consequential action as required by law.
“In the exercise of the power conferred and the duty imposed on the Clerk to Parliament by section 3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana (Amendment) Act, 1996 (Act 527), I, Cyril Kwabena Oteng Nsiah, do hereby formally notify you of the occurrence of a vacancy in the Assin North constituency necessitated by the judgement of the Supreme Court,” the letter stated.
Section 3 of Act 527 stipulates that “whenever a vacancy occurs in Parliament, the Clerk of Parliament shall notify the Electoral Commission in writing within seven days after becoming aware that the vacancy has occurred; and a by-election shall be held within 30 days after the vacancy occurred except that where the vacancy occurred through the death of member, the by-election shall be held within 60 sixty days after the occurrence of the vacancy”.
In its judgement in the case of Michael Ankomah Nimfah vs James Gyakye Quayson, the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Attorney-General on May 17, 2023, the apex court ordered Parliament to expunge the name of the National Democratic Congress Member of Parliament, James Gyakye Quayson, as a sitting MP.
The court held that the whole process leading to the election of Mr Quayson– filing of nomination forms, election itself and swearing-in--were all in violation of Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution, which bars a person with dual citizenship from contesting as an MP.
It was the considered view of the court that as of the time Mr Quayson filed his nomination forms in October 2020 to contest the Assin North seat, he had not renounced his Canadian citizenship and, therefore, was not qualified per Article 94(2)(a) of the Constitution.
In view of that the court further held that the EC also violated Article 94(2)(a) of the Constitution when it permitted Mr Quayson to contest the election.
“Upon the true and proper interpretation of Article 94(2)(a) the decision of second defendant [Electoral Commission] to permit the first defendant [James Gyakye Quayson] to contest the parliamentary election of Assin North when the first defendant had not shown evidence of the cancellation of his citizenship of Canada is an act which is inconsistent with and violates Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution,” the court held.
Consequently, the court declared that the election of Mr Quayson as well as his swearing-in as an MP was unconstitutional, null, void and of no legal effect.
During the vetting of the Chief Justice Nominee, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, on May 26, 2023, the Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, hinted at a letter he received from the Attorney-General (AG), Godfred Yeboah Dame, ????requesting the Speaker of Parliament.????
Per the letter, he said, the A-G requested the Speaker to declare the Assin North seat vacant in light of the recent Supreme Court judgement.
He said the A-G cited the apex court as ordering Parliament to expunge James Gyakye Quayson’s name from its records after it found that he failed to renounce his Canadian citizenship at the time of filing his nomination forms to contest the polls.
The vacancy, he said, would require a by-election.
Even before the declaration of the Assin North seat as being vacant, the Daily Graphic understands that the representatives of the two major political parties—the New Patriotic Party and the NDC—are currently on the ground in the constituency working to woo voters for their parliamentary candidates.
Besides, officials of the Ministry of Roads and Highways are also currently present in the area conducting a survey on possible roads that need to be tarred or constructed to make them more passable.