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Minority Upset With Speaker...For Blocking Probe Into Gitmo 2 Affairs
 
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16-Feb-2016  
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Mammoud Omar bin Atef and Khalid Salih Muhammed Al-Dhuby
 
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The Minority in Parliament has accused the Speaker, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho of blocking their moves to ascertain why the President accepted the two former detainees from Guantanamo Bay into the country.

Although the Minister of Foreign Affairs is scheduled to address the House on the issue on Friday in a closed-door session, the Minority has given the impression that moves initiated by them were being held back by the Speaker of Parliament.

Addressing a press conference in Parliament House Tuesday, the Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Mr Isaac Osei said all the urgent questions members had filed demanding answers from the relevant sector ministers had not been admitted by Mr Adjaho.

"At least five members have filed urgent questions but the Speaker is yet to admit them and so the business committee cannot list them,” he said.

“I personally 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.”

“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 on — Yemeni, Ghanaian or American? What visa entry or resident permit did they enter Ghana with? 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 said.

Mr Osei, who is also a Deputy Ranking Member on the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, noted that in a democracy, even a head of state or a minister must not be permitted or aided to erect barriers against legitimate examination and interrogation of his or her decisions or policies.

His or her mistakes and misadventures, he added, must not be shielded from public scrutiny.

He said the decision taken by the President was of a security nature, had international ramifications and would transcend the tenure of the President and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

"And the President has decided the matter without broad consultations? 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.

Breach of constitution

According to the Minority, the conduct of President Mahama in bringing the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees into the country without parliamentary approval constitutes a breach of the 1992 Constitution which he has sworn to uphold.
It has, therefore, urged him to "come clean" on the issue and tell Ghanaians the truth.

Mr Osei said the entire process was shrouded in secrecy, adding that, that was unacceptable in a democracy, except where Ghana's interest would be jeopardised in a more transparent and open process.

According to him, the statement made by the President to the effect that the former detainees did not pose any danger to national security was unconvincing.
In his view, if they did not, there would not have been a "secret year-long talk" on their transfer.

He said Article 84 (a) of the 1992 Constitution mandated the National Security Council (NSC) to safeguard the internal and external security of Ghana, while Article 83 (1) made the Foreign Affairs and the Interior ministers members of the NSC, yet clearly national security meetings were not convened on the matter.

The Subin MP said while Article 58 (1) of the Constitution vested the President with executive authority, that could only be exercised in accordance with the Constitution.

"It is the people of Ghana who have elected President Mahama to exercise the powers of the people on their behalf and in their best interest. When power is exercised capriciously without due process, it is usurpation of the rights of the people,” he said.

Reports on detainees

Mr Osei said a December 28, 2007 report by the US Department of Defence said Mammoud Omar bin Atef was a one-time fighter for Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda group.

He said bin Atef, who had threatened to cut the throat of Americans, admitted being a member of the Taleban and having received training at the Al Faruq training camp.

With regard to Khalid Salih Muhammed Al-Dhuby, Mr Osei said he was classified as being of medium security risk even though he had manned military positions in Tora Bora.

That information, he said, was widely available on Wikipedia, in the New York Times and the US Department of Defence.

He said it appeared from the briefing by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Hanna Tetteh, that information did not form part of the documents the US government gave to the Ghana government.

"The Foreign Minister indicated that she was seeking clarification on the matter but we wonder if this information would have led the President to a different decision. Can this also not expose the poverty of the investigation, if any, conducted by President Mahama on those two detainees?" he asked.
 
 
 
Source: Graphic.com.gh
 
 

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