Hell broke loose at the forecourt of the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) yesterday when some elected assembly members went berserk and nearly disrupted the inaugural ceremony of the assembly.
For close to 15 minutes, some of the irritated assembly members engaged each other in verbal exchanges and heated debates as the Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE), Kobina Pra Annan alias ‘Malon’, Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, a Member of the Council of State and other dignitaries present at the programme looked on helplessly.
It all started when the Metropolitan Coordinating Director (MCD), Abdulai Zakari, after mentioning the names of the 49 elected assembly members, announced that 23 persons had been selected to the assembly by the president as government-appointed assembly members.
The aggrieved assembly members, who had already vowed to end the programme abruptly, should the assembly go ahead to swear in more than the constitutionally-mandated 16 persons as government appointees, drew the attention of the MCD to the alleged anomaly in the number government appointees.
The visibly-aggravated assembly members explained that in all, the assembly had 54 members, comprising 49 elected by universal adult suffrage, four Members of Parliament and the Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE) as stipulated in Act 462 of the Local Government Act 1993.
The agitated elected assembly members alleged that by selecting 23, instead of 16 persons as government appointees to the assembly, the STMA was breaching the country’s constitution.
They emphasized that Article 242 (d) of the 1992 Constitution stipulates that a district assembly shall include “other persons not exceeding 30 per cent of the total membership of the assembly appointed by the president in consultation with traditional authorities and other interest groups in the district.”
Prince Armah, elected assembly member for Adiembra, did not understand why the president should appoint as many as 23 government appointees when it was clear that 30 percent of the 54 assembly members would be 16.
The assembly members then decided not to take part in the inaugural ceremony but the acting Omanhene of Sekondi and chairman for the programme, Nana Tete Appo, appealed to the assembly members to calm down and allow the programme to continue.
When calm was restored, the newly-elected assembly members and the 23 government appointees were sworn in to office by Justice Kofi Akowiah, a Sekondi High Court Judge.
Meanwhile, the assembly was not able to elect its Presiding Member (PM), as the two contestants, Alhaji Mamoud Ali, the incumbent PM who was seeking re-election and his contender Prince Armah, assembly member for Adiembra near Sekondi, could not secure the two-third majority to win the post, after two rounds of voting.
In the first round of voting, Ali had 44, while Armah garnered 29 out of the 73 ballots cast and in the second round, the incumbent PM had 45 while Armah had 28.
The electoral officers explained that any of the two contestants must have 48 votes to become the PM for the STMA.
The MCE, Pra Annan, therefore had to adjourn the sitting to next Tuesday, March 22, 2011 when the members would meet again to elect a new PM for the assembly