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"We never planned a demonstration in Parliament"- Media Coalition on RTI

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The Leading member of the Media Coalition on the Right To Information (RTI) Bill, Elvis Darko has stated that the coalition had no intentions to demonstrate or cause any commotions in parliament as the security persons were warned about.

He added that “we decided to be in there to know if parliament’s agenda of the house included the RTI Bill”.

He made this known in an interview with Ibrahim Kwarteng on GBC’s Current Affairs Programme “BEHIND THE NEWS”.

Mr. Elvis Darko said the coalition had educated themselves before proceeding to parliament and knew what was expected of them as observers of parliament who sit at the public gallery.

He stated that, unfortunately the police said that they were given strict instructions not to allow them. However he maintains that it is the description of the t-shirts that read ‘RTI BILL, MUST BE PASSED NOW’ made parliament resist them from entering the House.

The leader of the coalition said they find it very strange that the printouts on their t-shirts could stop them from entering the parliament. However the group lead has said that he thinks the reason given by parliament does not justify their move.

He said they are more concerned to ensure the amendment that the Media Coalition had made to the RTI Bill else the Bill when passed may not grant the people permit to information.

Mr. Darko said the coalition specifically want to ensure that the contents of the bill is spelt out as it was presented for amendment.

He stated that if the bill fails to contain that, the Media Coalition will want to ensure that it is amended accordingly. He said that the amendment will also ensure that at the end of the day the Law should not only benefit the media but the entire Ghanaians.

Meanwhile, the Acting Director of Public Affairs of Parliament, Kate Addo explained that there is no problem for anyone to come to parliament to observe proceedings., however, groups are expected to present a letter ahead of time for notice and approval.

Ms. Kate Addo explained to the public that on the day of arrival, the approved letter must be presented at the entrance for the group to be ushered to the chamber.

According to her, “though I heard of their coming, I was not informed they would come as a group”.

The Acting Public Affairs Director assured Ghanaians that “the RTI is at the consideration stage in parliament and what that means is that, the BILL has already been considered in the last meeting”. She also assure the Media Coalition on the RTI that, the bill is has been tabled and is not the only one awaiting approval.

She said parliament will seek the avenue to allow them to come again to observe the proceedings. She advised the public that when the right proceedings are done, parliament will not hesitate to allow anyone to enter the house.

BACKGROUND:

The Right To Information (RTI) Bill has been laid five times before Parliament since 2010. The bill is currently at the consideration stage before parliament.

On October 30, 2018, the Media Coalition on the Right To Information Bill trooped to Parliament to compel members to hasten the processes towards the passage of the bill into law. However, they were prevented from entering the Parliament House and were approached and escorted to the Police Post on the premises of Parliament.

They were told they could not be allowed to enter the House in their branded T-shirts. The majority leader, Ose Kyei Mensah Bonsu has however said that, parliament will not be pressured to pass the bill.

Story By: Nhyira Kwabi

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