The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has said he is not obliged to apologise for reporting the perceived misconduct of journalists to the Speaker of Parliament.
The Speaker, Professor Mike Oquaye, on Wednesday summoned the Dean of the Parliamentary Press Corps and the Director of Public Affairs of Parliament, following a complaint from Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.
He complained that journalists abandoned proceedings in the House and gave audience to the Member of Parliament for Ellembele, Emmanuel Armah Buah, who had concerns about the Energy Sector component of the State of the Nation Address.
Some members of the parliamentary press corps subsequently expressed their displeasure about the development and asked the leadership of the House to apologise.
Mr. Mensah-Bonsu however said calls for an apology were unfounded.
“I am really flabbergasted by this attitude. I have taken pain to explain what really transpired and for you to tell me the rules of the game that we all subscribe to, my own thinking is that you are a bit going out of bounds. As I said the Minority Leader added his own words to it. The Speaker encapsulated it. Then you are saying that for what we have done we owe you an apology, respectfully I do not,” said the Majority Leader.
Speaker not seeking to gag media
Already some have interpreted the Speaker’s decision as an attempt to stop them from discharging their duties.
However, Parliament in a statement released on Wednesday clarified that the Speaker’s decision was not aimed at stopping the media from doing their work.
“Parliament has noted media reports purporting that the Speaker of Parliament is seeking to gag the media. The Office would like to put on record that at no time either in his capacity as Speaker or in his personal capacity has Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye sought to prevent the media from doing its work. Parliament recognises the critical role of the media and the Speaker made reference to the same when he spoke about the high regard with which he holds the media’s work.”
The Speaker reiterated today that he was not seeking to gag the media.
“In view of a few comments that we all know of and some statements that have been made by about my directions yesterday. I want to reiterate that I spoke to both sides of the House and I did say so categorically.
“I reminded that the media are most welcome as guests of this humble House and we will do everything to assist them in the performance of this meeting and we will continue to do so.”
In his ruling on the complaint, the Speaker indicated that he would not hesitate to take action against journalists if due coverage is not given to the proceedings of the plenary.
“It is forbidden. If they have any doubt to abandon the permission given them to cover proceedings in this House and go outside the Chamber itself and do some other work…I want to let the media know. If that which is reported to have happened should happen again, I have reminded you of the fact that you are here as guests by my permission. Because of the importance, this House attaches to the inking profession, any such humiliation will make you an unwelcome guest and your welcome will be duly withdrawn.”