The inauguration of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic will take place in the early hours of Monday, January 7, 2013, the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Rashid Pelpuo, has confirmed.
According to him, the inauguration would be preceded by the election of a Speaker for the new Parliament after the dissolution of the Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic at midnight on Sunday, January 6, 2013.
This position settles the confusion over whether the new Parliament will be inaugurated two days before the dissolution of Parliament, as provided for in the Presidential (Transition) Act, 2012 (Act 845), or on Monday, January 7,2013, as specified by the 1992 Constitution.
Section 11 (1) of the Presidential (Transition) Act provides: "Two days before the dissolution of Parliament, the Clerk to Parliament shall summon a meeting of the elected members of Parliament to (a) elect the Speaker (b) elect the Deputy Speaker (C) take the oaths of office as members."
Section 11(3) of the Act further provides: "The Speaker elected under sub-section (1) and the Members of Parliament who take their oaths of office under that sub-section, assume office subject to the operations of Article 113 of the Constitution, and accordingly take office on the 7th January following the general election."
These sections of Act 845 are inconsistent with provisions of the .1992 Constitution and they form the basis for the confusion over the date for the election of a Speaker and the inauguration of the new Parliament.
The Constitution provides in Article 113 (2): "Subject to Clause (2) of this article, Parliament shall continue for four years from the date of its first sitting and shall then stand dissolved."
That means the current Parliament stands dissolved on January 6, 2013, considering that its first sitting was on January 7, 2009.
Article 95 (1) of the Constitution further stipulates: "There shall be a Speaker of Parliament who shall be elected by the Members of Parliament from among persons who are Members of Parliament or who are qualified to be elected as Members of Parliament."
The Deputy Majority Leader explained to the Daily Graphic yesterday that to the extent that the Presidential (Transition) Act was inconsistent with the Constitution, Parliament had decided to respect the supreme law of the land to resolve the confusion.
"You cannot have another Parliament before the end of the life of an existing Parliament, else you create confusion in the minds of the people," Mr Pelpuo said.
He said as a result, the current Parliament would be dissolved at midnight on Sunday, January 6, 2013, adding that five minutes after the dissolution, a Speaker for the new Parliament would be elected by the new members.
He said the Speaker-elect would then administer the oaths of office to members of the new Parliament, after which they would proceed to the Independence Square for the swearing-in of the President.
Asked why Parliament did not detect the inconsistency before the passage of the Presidential (Transition) Act, he said that was unfortunate.
Mr Pelpuo, however, noted that there would be the need to amend the act in order to make it consistent with the Constitution.