Parliament Africa Your Go To Source On African Parliament Sun, 10 Mar 2019 20:36:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 132994655 Ghana: Minority Calls For Resignation Of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Fri, 08 Mar 2019 20:25:43 +0000 The Minority Caucus in Ghana’s Parliament has called for the resignation of the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, with immediate effect, following a media documentary that allegedly links him to a vigilante group operating from the Castle, the former Office of the President.

According to the minority, the President has lost every moral authority to continue to occupy the high office of the land after having been caught “In flagrante delicto.” 

The minority also called on the Inspector General of Police to immediately carry out a swoop and arrest the leaders and members of De-Eye Group militia for flagrantly violating numerous laws including but not limited to Articles 85, 200 (2) and 210 (2) of the Constitution of Ghana and Police Service Act, 1970 (Act 350).

They further demanded among other things that: an investigation be opened into how a facility owned and managed by the State – the Osu Castle became a safe haven for an NPP militia; the State should take urgent steps to reclaim the offices and other State properties in the possession of the leaders of De-Eye Group Militia as a matter of prime importance; Government should immediately discontinue the training of NPP militia groups in facilities owned by the State across the country; Civil Society Groups and Faith Based Organizations should now assume a prominent facilitation role in the proposed talks to disband all party militias seeing that Government can no longer be trusted as an inculpable party.

Speaking at a hurriedly arranged press conference on Friday morning in parliament, the minority caucus served notice that if all their demands are not met in the shortest possible time, they shall avail to themselves other constitutional avenues to achieve their objectives in the national interest.

The minority expressed total shock and indignation after watching a special undercover investigative report by Head of Joy News Investigative Desk, Manasseh Azure Awuni titled: “The Militia in the Heart of the Nation.”

Addressing the press conference, the Minority Chief Whip, Hon Muntanka Mubarak, said the content of the undercover report which was aired last night [Thursday Evening] is not only unsettling, it makes for grim commentary. 

“Indeed, it shakes the very foundations of the notion that Ghana remains a stable democratic State.  That façade appears to have been stripped bare.

Since the airing of “The Militia in the Heart of the Nation,” dark clouds now hang over our dear nation as many ponder deeply on the direction of our country under the duplicitous and deceptive leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo”.

He said Ghanaians are not oblivious of how similar militias in other countries mutated into full blown terrorist organizations that now haunt those nations and beyond including the politicians who birth them.

Manasseh’s report reveals how an NPP militia known as De-Eye Group operates and trains hundreds of its members at the Christianborg Castle in Osu. 

Until 2013, the Christianborg Castle was the seat of Government serving as offices for the administrations of former Presidents Rawlings, Kufuor and Mills.  Though the seat of Government has now moved from the Osu Castle to the Jubilee House, it is significant to point out that the Osu Castle is still considered a nerve centre for the functions of the executive arm of Government.  This point is further buttressed by the fact that at least four Ministers of State at the Office of the President namely: Dr. Mustapha Hameed who is the Minister of State responsible for Inner City and Zongo Development, Hawa Koomson who is responsible for Special Development Initiatives, Professor Gyan Baffour who is responsible for Planning and Minister of State at the Presidency Rockson Bukari all function from the Castle.

The irony is that the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election Commission of Enquiry, which was established following the January 31st, 2019 bloody by-election and which is chaired by Justice Emile Short is conducting its public hearings from that same Osu Castle.

The Joy News’ undercover report unmasks the Commander of De-Eye Group militia as one Nana Wireko Addo, also known as “Choman.”  An intriguing fact is that Joy News has confirmed that the said Commander is a former personal bodyguard of President Akufo-Addo.  This appears consistent with the narrative of how other bodyguards of Vice President Bawumia, National Organizer Sammy Awuku and other senior NPP functionaries who have been identified as leaders of other party militias.

“Perhaps even more mind-blowing is the revelation that De-Eye Group militia has been allocated two offices at the Castle where it uses one as a secretariat and the other as an office for Commander Nana Wireko Addo.  For a Government that is yet to provide complete office accommodation for all of its elephant-sized 111 Ministers – the De-Eye Group Militia must be a very special organization dear to the hearts of those who matter at the very top echelons. 

The investigative report brings to the fore the inner workings of the militia and how well connected they are to party bigwigs including President Akufo-Addo himself.  In a military ops style, divisions within the militia are Alpha, Charley, Delta and the Special Unit”.

The scary revelations also show how some persons within the National Security Ministry such as the Operations Director, Col. Michael Opoku of the infamous “Azugulicious” deployment in the bloody Ayawaso West Wuogon operation were rendered powerless when they tried to stop the militia from operating at the Osu Castle including using the once ceremonial and stately Osu Gardens for training drills.  The militia’s commander “Choman” is also captured on tape bragging about how they have defeated those National Security infiltrators who tried to work against the militia’s progress.

Undoubtedly, one of the most chilling disclosures is the very audible confession of the militia’s Chief of Staff, Mr. Frazer Owireku Kegya who tells his militia members on the 10th of December, 2018 about how President Akufo-Addo was impressed with the groups output at the December 7,2018  Dombo event at which President Akufo-Addo was special guest of honour.  Mr. Kegya revealed how President Akufo-Addo directly enquired with enormous pride if the group he saw at the Dombo event were his “children” who operate from the Castle.  Mr. Kegya adds that President Akufo-Addo was not shocked to see the group and that the President was very proud of how his militia had taken shape.

The minority insisted that the special Joy News’ investigative report has exposed the pretentious and deceptive character of President Akufo-Addo, noting that, “Apparently, whereas President Akufo-Addo publicly engages in lofty rhetoric about the urgent need to disband political party militias, he is busily nurturing many more militias behind the scenes; a clear case of preaching virtue and practicing vice”. 

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Ghana: No government can ignore a well-informed organised youth -Speaker of Parliament Thu, 28 Feb 2019 10:50:59 +0000 The Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Rt. Hon Aaron Michael Oquaye, has indicated that no government anywhere in the world can ignore the sentiments, suggestions and concerns raised by the country’s organized youth groups, who are knowledgeable and well informed, noting that anything contrary to this is tantamount to disaster.  

He noted that the youth are the future leaders of any country and therefore the need to invest in them and prepare them adequately for the future.

Addressing a delegation of Youth Parliamentarians from the Youth Empowerment for Life (YEfL) project under the auspices of STAR-Ghana Foundation, Speaker Oquaye, however, observed that just as the country has an obligation to build and prepare the youth for the future, the youth must also be prepared to improve upon themselves for the future, this they should be willing to do through formal and informal education.

He expressed worry about the lack of reading and research culture among the youth, pointing out that, “The youth spend most of their time on social media. If you do not have the desire to research and explore, you will not be able contribute meaningfully to the country’s governance and developments”.

Speaker Oquaye observed that the tendency for people, especially the youth, to use violence and radical means to vent out their grievances, expectations and demands from the authorities, is borne out of the country’s revolutionary past that characterized the struggle for independence. But quickly pointed out that things have changed now and society is now using the diplomatic, peaceful and scientific way of doing things.

“There is no need to shout, insult or resort to violence to make or argue your point. Your well researched facts should speak for you,” he stressed.

On his part, Mr. Ibrahim Tanko, Acting Chief Executive Officer, STAR-Ghana Foundation, stressed on the need to mainstream youth participation in the nation’s architecture. He said there is the need for a structured nurturing programme that enables the youth to engage with leaders and policy makers to learn from them.

He proposed that the various assemblies should provide the platform for youth to participate in the governance at the district level.

The Director of Operations and Programmes at the National Youth Authority (NYA), Mr. Sulemana Mumuni, disclosed that the NYA is currently preparing to bring to parliament the Legislative Instrument (LI) to operationalize the NYA Act (Act 939).

NYA for the pass 10years have been piloting the Youth Parliament concept in the Upper East region and hope to expand this concept nationwide. This, the NYA hopes, will decrease youth agitations and also give the youth a platform to contribute to national development.

However, the NYA’s pilot Youth Parliament concept is different from that of the YEfL project.

The Speaker of the YEfL Youth Parliaments, Jeremiah Kasalku Takal, explained that their Youth Parliament is made up of representatives of 175 Youth Parliamentarians from twenty-five (25) communities in five (5) districts of the Northern Region of Ghana namely Sagnarigu, Yendi, Nanumba South and Nanumba North and other youth advocates.

It is a concept by the youth of Saboba and currently being implemented as an extended project by the Youth Empowerment for Life (YEfL). The initiative is to provide a platform for young people to have engagements with decentralized duty bearers and find solutions to issues concerning community development. The project is being supported by the STAR-Ghana Foundation with funding from DFID, DANIDA and the EU.

In a communiqué presented to the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Rt. Hon Oquaye, the Youth Parliament proposed that, Parliament should support youth inclusivity in governance processes at all levels to advance policy formulation and implementation for national development; the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development, Youth, Sports and Culture should support the set-up and mentoring of Youth Parliaments across the country; Call for the passage of the LI of the National Youth Authority Act (Act 939) to give effect to the law and national youth policy; Parliament should fast tract the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill and the Right To Information Bill as soon as possible; and called upon the House to consider legislations that makes youth participation at the Assembly level more representative and meaningful through the provision of specific percentages for youth appointment.

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Ghana: Amendment of the Ghana Free Zones Board Act will make us more efficient -GFZA Tue, 05 Feb 2019 18:26:20 +0000 Top officials of the Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) have indicated the need for the amendment of the Free Zone Act, 1995, Act 504, to give them a corporate status thereby making them more efficient and productive to meet the demands of the 21st century.

The Free Zone Act is an Act of Parliament that enables the establishment of free zones in Ghana for the promotion of economic development; to provide for the regulation of activities in free zones and for related purposes.

The 24 year old law, Act 504, gives powers to the Minister of Trade and Industry to Chair the Board of the GFZA; placing the GFZA under the supervisory role of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. As it stands now, the GFZA is not a corporate entity with the power to sue and be sued.  All legal actions against or on behalf of the GFZA can only be taken through the Attorney General’s Department, and the supervising Ministry.

Apart from gaining a corporate status, the proposed amendment amongst other things also seeks to address some of the gray areas in the law and to bring it in alignment with other existing laws that have rippling effect on the operations of the GFZA.

In an interview with Parliamentary News Africa during a One Day Capacity Building Workshop for members of the Parliamentary Press Corps on the operations of the GFZA, Mrs. Kristine Awurabena Lartey, Head of Legal and Board Secretary, GFZA, pointed out the need to harmonized all existing laws that affect the operations of the GFZA.

She identified amendment in the Tax regime as one of the challenges affecting the operations of the GFZA, explaining that the GFZB Act provides for a ten years tax holiday for all enterprises operating in a free zone enclave. After the ten years tax holiday period has elapsed, the applicable tax provided in Act 504 is 8percent, however without any recourse to the GFZA, there was an amendment of the tax regime and this was taken to 15percent.

“The Ghana Revenue Authority through the Ministry of Finance had this amendment passed without consulting the GFZA.  These amendments and other directives from other government agencies impact the operations of the Authority, resulting in the Authority being placed in a very difficult position because enterprises operating in the free zones are affected.

They complain to us about these changes. Their angst is that the 8percent after the tax holiday is part of the incentives that attracted their companies to invest in Ghana. Unfortunately, the FZEs have to comply with the changes because they have been passed into law.” she lamented.

According to her, “These are some of the things we want to guard against.  The reviewed Act will have to make clear and distinct provisions that prevent other state institutions from issuing directives that impact the Free Zones Authority and its role without broader consultations”.

Another area that is not fully provided for in the Act is payment of property tax. Enterprises operating in the free zone enclave are pestered on a daily basis by the Kpone Katamanso Municipal Assembly who serves them with huge amounts for property tax.

“We cannot tell the formulae by which the Assembly arrived at these huge amounts to be paid as property tax. Right now we are only managing with this untenable situation, despite the fact that our law (Act 504) protects enterprises operating in a free zone enclave from paying some taxes.  These are grey areas that needed to be addressed in our proposed amendment to the Free Zone Board Act”, she indicated.

In creating a viable and sustainable business environment to attract investors, the GFZA offers extensive and generous incentives to potential investors interested in developing and operating free zone enclaves and single-factory zones in Ghana.

The monetary incentives offered include: 100percent exemption from payment of direct and indirect duties and levies on all imports for production and exports from free zones; 100percent exemptions from payment of income tax on profits for 10 years, which will not exceed 15 percent thereafter; total exemption from payment of withholding taxes from dividends arising out of a free zone investments; and relief from double taxation for foreign investors and employees where Ghana has a double taxation agreement with the country of the investors or employees.

Touching on the progress made so far on the proposed amendment, Mrs. Lartey disclosed that the GFZA has collated inputs from some stakeholders and is doing further engagements with these stakeholders, which includes the enterprises operating in the free zone enclaves.

“We are at the stage of drafting the cabinet memorandum that will be presented to the Ghana Free Zones Board for discussion, vetting and approval, before it is presented by the Minister of Trade and Industry to Parliament.  The other processes can then be followed, i.e. the input of the Legislative Drafting Section of the Attorney General’s Department, engagement with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade and Industry etc.

We are hoping that by the end of the third quarter the proposed amendments to the Act will be ready to be laid in parliament for passage into law, she disclosed.

Ghana: The creation of MoPA is not to weaken Parliament- Hon Osei Kyei Mon, 14 Jan 2019 10:56:22 +0000

The Minister for the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA), Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has reiterated that the creation of the ministry is not to weaken the institution of parliament but rather to compliment it.

He therefore dispelled the notion that the appointment of the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs by the Executive reinforces the perception of a culture of executive dominance over the legislature.  

According to Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is also the Majority Leader of Parliament, this may seem so on the face value, however, just a little perusal beneath the surface, would reveal the essential role the ministry plays in the country’s democracy.

He explained that the mandate of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs was to interface between the Executive and the Legislature to enhance governance in the country. He noted that the ministry as part of its function was to interface between the Executive and Parliament to enhance the delivery of government business.

He mentioned that the ministry was also to facilitate the development and implementation of citizens centered collaborative interface with other state actors on matters relating to legislation.

Speaking at the ministry’s dialogue programme to engaged with the Expanded Leadership of Parliament under the theme, “Interrogating the Performance of Ghana’s Parliament under the Fourth Republic”, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Majority Leader of Parliament, emphasized that the ministry would enhance the democratic process to guarantee good governance through dialogue, consensus building in the organs of government, state and non-state actors for the economic development of Ghana.

According to him, the vision was to promote consensus building among and within the political class in a purposed, transparent and accountable manner to deepen and broaden inclusiveness in the country’s participatory democracy.

Parliament is seen as the central institution to democratic governance in Ghana. The political stability that the country is enjoying is partly attributed to parliament. Parliament is clothed with the power of law-making, approval of executive policies, budgets and appropriation, confirmation of appointments, oversight of government agencies, and representation.

On his part, the Acting Chief Director of MoPA, Dr. Evans Aggrey-Darkoh, pointed out that if Parliament is unwilling and, or unable to perform its functions, an overbearing executive can rule whimsically and capriciously to the detriment of the people.

“If parliament would effectively perform it functions as conferred on it by the 1992 constitution, it would follow that Ministries, Departments, and Agencies and some private entities would execute their policies so well that the country would experience some dramatic transformation in its development. Considering the importance of the Select Committees to the performance of the functions of parliament, the Ministry decided to engage the expanded Leadership (largely from the select committees) in order to interrogate the functioning of our parliament”, he added.

Dr. Aggrey Darkoh expressed his appreciation for leadership unflinching support and the collaboration between the Ministry and Parliament as both seek to consolidate the governance architecture of Ghana.

Some of the issues discussed during the dialogue with the expanded leadership of parliament include: the major strengths and weaknesses of the committee system, research capacity and other resources available to the committees, attrition rate and its effect on the performance of parliament, Parliament and political stability in Ghana, major constraints of Parliament and recommendations to improve upon the performance of Parliament.

Ghana: Parliament advised to protect image Fri, 21 Dec 2018 23:33:35 +0000

Civil Society Organisations have called on parliament to take immediate measures to change the negative perception many Ghanaians have of the institution.

According to them, the citizenry is unimpressed and worried about the partisan nature of parliament, a situation that is making them lose interest and trust in the legislature.

For Beauty Emefa Narteh, Executive Secretary, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), many Ghanaians see Members of Parliament as a group of people who only seek their individual interests and that of their respective political parties.

Adding his voice, Samson Lardi Anyenini, a Legal Practitioner and a radio host, pointed out that the continuous absence of Members of Parliament from Chamber business sent the wrong signal out to the citizenry.

He expressed surprised at the inability of parliament to get a quorum on numerous occasions to do parliamentary business, citing the various occasions that Hon K T Hammond and Hon Sam George had used the issue of lack of quorum to stop the consideration of the RTI Bill.

These comments were made at a meeting for core leadership of parliament organized by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, under the theme, “An overview of the Second Session of the Seventh Parliament of the Republic of Ghana”.

The CSOs present at the meeting however appreciated parliament for the speedy passage of key anti-corruption laws such as the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act and the Witness Protection Act to help fight corruption in Ghana. They appealed to the leadership of parliament to also give special attention to the passage of the RTI Bill currently at the consideration stage.

Speaking at the meeting, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu, noted that it is important for parliament to design a means to evaluate the performance of Members of Parliament and how the public see them.

He noted that the MoPA platform is one of the ways for parliament to know the public’s perception of the legislature, and also get quality feedback.

He took the opportunity to call on Ghanaians, especially those in the private sector, to pay their taxes to enable government institutions to be adequately resourced to work in the citizenry interest. This was in response to calls by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and other statutory bodies for their budgetary allocations for next year to be increased to help them effectively carry out their mandate.

Ghana: Women Participation In Politics Critical Fri, 21 Dec 2018 08:04:59 +0000

The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has called for the second look at the manner the electioneering process in Ghana are handled in order to enable and encouraged more women to contest for elections to represent their constituents in parliament.

Factors such as the discrimination against women, the perception that politics is the domain of men, which leads to the vilification of women who want to venture into politics and the general unenthusiastic support for affirmative action programmes undermines the female population and relegate them to subservient positions in public life.

Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu was of the view that many Ghanaian women shy away from contesting for political office due to the masculine nature for contesting an election in Ghana, coupled with the huge amounts of money spent on contesting for an elections.   

According to him, women in general are averse to risk and therefore abhor the thought of spending too much money on an enterprise that could go both ways.

Addressing the women caucus of parliament at a programme organised by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA), under the theme, “Stress Management and Social Media Utilization For Effective Parliamentary Work”, the Hon Minister noted that the need for Ghana to encourage and entrench women participation in politics and parliament is critical.

He disclosed that in 1957 ten (10) women were selected by the National Assembly to fill ten seats, and none one of them were elected. This progressive move was however not maintained by subsequent Parliaments.

The Minister for MoPA, who is also the Majority Leader of Parliament and Leader of Government business, observed that although Ghana is not near the 30percent women in parliament target as imposed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the country has made some progress. But quickly acknowledged the need to encourage and entrenched women participation in parliament.

He used the occasion to call on the women caucus to lead the charge to get the Interstate Succession Law, The Spousal Right Bill, and the Affirmative Action Bill passed into law. He expressed his disappointment at the women caucus of parliament for not showing any interest during the passage of the Children’s Act.

In his welcome address, the Acting Chief Director of MoPA, Dr Evans Aggrey-Darko, reiterated that Ghana is struggling with strategies that would enhance the representation of women in public life.

According to him, the creation of a new ministry devoted to gender issues and its elevation to cabinet status, reduction of filling fees by the political parties for women who want to contest positions in the various capacities, the creation of the women organizer’s position at the various levels within the political parties’ hierarchy, among others, have proven insufficient in addressing the fundamental challenge of low female representations in public life including parliament.

“Since 1992, the representation of women in parliament has always been below 14percent even though our census data have consistently shown that women constitute more than 50percent of Ghana’s population. This low representation of women still remains one of the democratic deficits of our country,” he lamented.

Two resource persons from the University of Ghana, Legon, took participants through how to manage with stress, and also how to effectively use social media to make their work effective.

Ghana: Government has not signed any contract in ‘Oslo gate’ saga Thu, 20 Dec 2018 19:42:39 +0000

The majority members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament have categorically denied the existence of a contract between Ghana and the owner of the Signysgt property in Oslo.

According to Hon Annor Dompreh, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, what is being purported as a contract is rather an offer letter.

On Monday, the Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa, a Minority MP, had alleged that the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  have purchased a five bedroom house in Oslo Norway for an amount of $12million dollar to be used as a chancery by Ghana’s mission in Norway.

Hon Ablakwa further alleged that the country is paying more than what it should for the said house.

Speaking at a press conference to throw more light on what the majority members of the committee described as “outright untruths”, the Committee Chairman accused Hon Ablakwa for showing bad faith and mischief in leaking official committee documents to the general public and also twisting the facts of the matter to serve his political interest.

Supporting his boss, the Vice Chairman of the Committee, Hon Kwaku Appratwum Sarpong, a Majority MP, indicated that though the Government of Ghana showed interest in the said building, it was yet to undertake the necessary procurement and value for money assessment that needed to be done before such purchase is done.

He pointed out that Hon Ablakwa in his haste to cause mischief, confused a 15 bedroom property in a very high end area in Oslo to another 6 bedroom house that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had expressed interest in.

“The owner of the 15 bedroom apartment was requesting for $12million. The second one, which is a 6 bedroom property is for $3.5 million,” he explained.

He reiterated that the Government of Ghana has not entered into any contract with the owner of the property.

Ghana: Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs is a self-censor for government – Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu Fri, 14 Dec 2018 13:23:17 +0000 The Minister for the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA), Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has indicated that as part of the Executive branch of government, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, without any overt external pressure acts as a self-censor for the government, being sensitive to the sensibilities and preferences of the citizenry, actual or perceived.

He emphasized that MoPA serves as a bridge builder between Parliament, the Executive and the Citizenry.

He admitted the daunting challenges his ministry face in carrying out their tall mandate, and called for the cooperation of the media to accomplish it.

“My staff and I at the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs believe firmly that we cannot carry out our lofty plans and programmes alone no matter how well intended.  We will need collaborators and partners to educate and inform the populace.

Speaking at a media dialogue organized by his ministry under the theme, “Interrogating Parliament’s Contribution to the Consolidation of Ghana’s Democracy Thus Far – The Perspectives of the Media”, Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, noted that MoPA is poised to work and contribute to enhancing the dignity and image of Parliament and Members of Parliament, promote consensus building, endeavour to control excessive partisanship and encourage constructive criticism.

The Media indeed contributes immensely to our sociopolitical climate. And instead of leaving the Media as a neutral channel, we have identified you as our preferred partner to undertake the intricate duty of shaping, guiding, collecting, collating and even structuring civil opinions” he observed.

Geneva: Youth representation in parliament nudges up according to new IPU report Thu, 13 Dec 2018 13:34:36 +0000 The global proportion of MPs under 30 has increased in two years from 1.9 per cent to 2.2 per cent according to the IPU’s biannual report on Youth Participation in National Parliaments published today. Despite this increase, when compared with the half of the world’s population that is under 30, the report reveals a sizeable deficit in the political representation of youth worldwide. Europe performs best in the share of young MPs, followed by the Americas. The report will be launched at the IPU’s fifth Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan on 14-15December.  

As a global hub of information about parliaments, the IPU has measured and analyzed youth participation in parliaments since 2014. In a bid to make parliaments more representative, the IPU has spearheaded efforts to encourage more youth participation by collecting data, providing policy guidance, and establishing foras for young parliamentarians such as the annual global conference of young MPs. The next edition of the conference, jointly organized by the IPU and the National Assembly of Azerbaijan, will be under the umbrella theme of “Promoting sustainability, protecting the interests of future generations”.

Gabriela Cuevas, IPU President, said “As the youngest President of the IPU, I believe representation is not only a cornerstone of democracy, but also our biggest source of strength. By bringing more young people into decision making, we will make better decisions on the key challenges our societies face. We count on the vision, commitment and fresh ideas of young MPs to guide us on how to make policies that respond efficiently not only to today’s needs but also to those of future generations.”

Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General, said “The IPU walks the talk when it comes to youth political empowerment. For example, we recently amended IPU statutes to include more young parliamentarians in IPU decision-making bodies. This not only shows the priority we place on greater youth participation, it also signals to the international parliamentary community the importance of the youth voice today.”

Based on surveys completed by over 200 parliamentary chambers in 150 countries, the IPU report finds that over 30 per cent of the world’s single or lower chambers of parliament have no MPs under 30; and that 76 per cent of upper chambers of parliament have no MPs under 30. The proportion of MPs under 40 has also increased from 14.2 per cent in 2016 to 15.5 per cent in 2018; and the number of MPs under 45 has gone up from 26 percent in 2016 to 28.1 per cent in 2018.

Male MPs continue to outnumber their female counterparts in every age group but to varying degrees. They outnumber women nearly three fold in the 41–50 age group; more than threefold in the 51–60 age group; and nearly five fold in the 61–70 age group. Furthermore, in the younger cohorts, there are about twice as many men as women.

The Nordic countries lead in electing younger legislators with the share of MPs under 30 exceeding 10 per cent in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Their share is also around 10 per cent in the single or lower chambers of San Marino, the Gambia, Montenegro and Venezuela. The only upper chamber approaching that level is Bhutan, at 9.1 per cent.

Only five African countries – the Gambia, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Cabo Verde and Equatorial Guinea – make the top 20. Yet, the African continent has the world’s youngest population, with an estimated 200 million people between 15 and 24 years old.

Several countries have held elections since the 2016 IPU report (information from 63 renewed chambers are taken into account in the new IPU report). Among single and lower chambers three countries made particularly strong progress: Montenegro, Venezuela and France. In Montenegro a new political party, made up primarily of young people, became the second largest in terms of parliamentary representation in 2016. In Venezuela, young parliamentarians play a key role in promoting democracy and defending the opposition-controlled National Assembly. In France, the country’s 2017 elections saw the emergence of a new political movement, En Marche! which won a majority of seats in the lower chamber. As a result, the average age of MPs in France dropped from 54 in 2012 to 48 in 2017.

The IPU report recommends a number of measures to help increase youth participation in parliaments. Electoral quotas established for young people in a growing number of countries worldwide are starting to have an effect. Aligning voter age with the age of eligibility for office also brings in a larger cohort of young candidates. Networks of young MPs, as well as caucuses addressing youth issues, have been established in 16.7 per cent of the parliaments covered in the IPU report, including recently in Pakistan, Tanzania and the Russian Federation. Parliamentary committees dealing with youth issues now exist in more than 40 per cent of countries; and 72 countries organize youth parliaments as a means of educating and engaging greater numbers of young people in politics.

GHANA: Media Advocacy on CSE Held in Accra Mon, 10 Dec 2018 18:37:58 +0000 A meeting to solicit media input on an advocacy comprehensive sexuality education as a tool for empowering the adolescent girl has been held in Accra.

According to Erika Goldson, UNFPA Deputy Representative, this is part of their commitment to fight and exposed issues of adolescent sexuality.

She noted that adolescent girls are exposed to many risks such as sexual abuse, school dropouts and teenage pregnancy, therefore the need to help them through this transition process.

She acknowledged the key role the media play in shaping society and setting the agenda, noting that, “There is the need to understand the media to help us work appropriately with them.”

The media was taken through a presentation on the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) guideline document, which seeks to ensure that young people receive a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education. CSE will equip adolescent girls with the requisite information on sexual and reproductive health and right for a better adolescence experience.

The guideline provides the age at which young people, both in and out of school, could start receiving comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education.

The essence of the guideline document was to ensure that each child receives basic information about their sexual and reproductive health that would help them to make informed choices.