Address by the Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament and President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), at the opening ceremony of the 66th CPA Annual Conference held in Accra, Ghana on the 4th of October 2023  

  1. E. Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana and Vice Patron of the CPA

Rt. Hon Speakers, Presiding Officers and Heads of Delegations of Parliaments of the CPA

Your Ladyship, the Chief Justice and Justices of the Superior Courts of Judicature

Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP and Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee

Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Leader and Vice Chair of the CPA and other Members of the CPA Executive Committee

Hon . Stephen Twigg, Secretary-General of the CPA

Mr. Jarvis Mintanya,  Deputy Secretary General and other staff of the CPA

Ministers of State, Delegates, SOCATT Members, Accompanying Spouses and Hon Members of Parliament

Distinguished members of the Council of State

Members of the diplomatic corps

Heads of CSOs and government institutions

Media partners

Distinguished invited guests

All other protocols observed!


This is Ghana, the land of gold inhabited by some of the hospitable descendants of the King of gold, the legendary wealthiest person that ever lived on earth, the great King Mansa Musa of ancient Ghana, Mali and Songhai empires. Ghana now occupy the state of gold, being the highest producer and exporter of gold in the world. The Golden Stool, in the custody of His Royal Majesty,  Otumfuo Osei Tutu the 11, the King of Asante, bares ample testimony to this. Ghana is the centre of the world, where longitude zero meets latitude zero! Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is calculated from this point, in the territory of Ghana. Ghana is the home of the impossible, an oasis of peace and a model of democracy. As President of the CPA and Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, I, on behalf of the Members of the CPA and the Parliament and the people of Ghana, warmly welcome you all to Ghana, the gateway to Africa, to the epoch-making 66th CPC of the great Commonwealth Parliamentary family. In some of Ghana’s local languages we heartily, say, Akwaaba, Woezor, Marhaba. And in Swahili, we say, Asante Saana.

Distinguished participants, despite the busy schedule of the President of Ghana, who is the Vice Patron of the CPA,  he has graciously accepted to personally attend and deliver the opening address to the conference. It is an honor, to have him in our midst and to receive his words of wisdom from his own lips. Your Excellency, the Commonwealth Parliamentary family is grateful to you , sir,  for the honor.

Let me also extend my appreciation and that of all Ghanaians to the delegates for the honor done to Ghana by the acceptance of our offer to host the 66th Conference here in Accra. We are indeed grateful to you all. Your presence and participation in this conference speak volumes of how dear you regard our country and your collective commitment and faith in the guiding values and principles of the Commonwealth family. We are particularly grateful for the interest and efforts in visiting our tourists sites, experiencing our culture and traditions, savouring the sights and sounds and the flora and forna of our beautiful country. To this end, I, on behalf of the leadership, Members and staff of Parliament, thank HRM, Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11, for the gracious sponsorship and hosting of the cultural event in Kumasi. We are truly grateful. I extend the same gratitude to Dr. Paul Kow Ansah, the accomplished creative artist and curator, for placing at the disposal of Parliament and our guests, his lifelong investment, the globally recognized Pan-African Museum at Nkontompo, Takoradi. The oil city where the operation desert war was launched to end the onslaught of Nazi Germany, which led to the end of the second world war in 1945. I am also grateful to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Ghana Tourism Development Authority for their support and facilitation of the visits. We are indeed grateful.

Our distinguished participants enjoyed every bit of the experience and appreciated the organizers and facilitators of the tours.

Our guiding values and principles

  1. E. the President, Distinguished participants, we are gathered in Accra, Ghana, to share ideas, information, knowledge and experiences on how far we have traveled on the democratic journey, under the theme “The Commonwealth Charter, 10 years on: values and principles for Parliaments to uphold”. As members of the CPA, there are a set of values and principles that bring us together, as enunciated in the Charter. To create enough room and space for deliberations on thus theme, a number of workshops have been scheduled on critical topics such as “Twenty years of Latimer House principles on separation of powers: Is it working?”, “ The Commonwealth Charter: A Charter for all Human Rights, or just some?”, “Building Independent Parliaments: Ensuring Financial and administrative autonomy “, “E-Parliaments: An effective mechanism for intersectional diversity and equitable public engagement”,? “Gender quotas in Parliament – a means to an end?”, “Youth Roundtable: Role of the Commonwealth in international security and peacebuilding “, and many other important current economic and political issues.

H.E.’s effective separation of powers of government might have been achieved by the parliaments of developed countries, but for some parliaments, it remains a mirage. Yet, democracy will remain elusive if we are not deliberate in our efforts to ensure the independence of parliaments. As James Madison, the Fourth President of the United States said, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

We can strengthen parliaments by empowering our oversight committees to review government actions, budgets, and policies effectively. We can strengthen parliament through civic education programs that inform citizens about their rights and the need to protect parliamentary democracy. Indeed, Parliaments must leverage the strong relationships they have with civil society and the media to facilitate public participation in parliament’s work and to expose infractions on democratic principles.

Parliamentary democracy in sub-Saharan Africa

We in Ghana feel a sense of accomplishment as hosts of the 66th edition of the CPC. Our experimentation at parliamentary democracy is now a full-blown feature of our governance architecture. This year, we celebrate 30 years of stable parliamentary democracy. Ours is a stable democracy in a sub-region that has in recent times developed a notoriety for reversing and backsliding on its democratic journey.

Parliaments in this sub-region and in Africa in general must try to understand the reasons for the loss of trust and confidence in the leadership of democratic processes and institutions that has characterized the recent spate of military incursions into governance. We should be able to pick the signals should there be any, and steer our democracies away from such incidents.

High-level corruption, nepotism, neglect of the hopes and aspirations of the electorates in pursuit of personal and parochial interests, and policies that only deepen poverty and deprivation levels, whilst supporting ostentation among the political elite would only generate mistrust among the electorates. That explains why in some of our countries, election into public offices has become highly transactional between candidates and voters, with instant personal gratification as the currency. This only serves to accentuate the cycle of mistrust fueling dissatisfaction with political leadership and institutions in the sub-region.


Distinguished delegates, let’s encourage ourselves to endeavor to restore dignity to elected offices and to rebuild trust and confidence in democratic processes and institutions. Above all, let us enjoy not just the content of this conference, but also the burgeoning democracy that Ghana represents, the warmth and hospitality, and the sights and sounds of this country.

I commend parliament’s local organizing committee and the CPA secretariat for their hard work in bringing this conference to fruition. It has been a job well delivered.

Thank you for your attention.

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