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National Assembly

The Speaker

 
The Speakership is the most important office in the House.
 
The first business of the House is to elect a Speaker when the Assembly first meets, after a general election.
 
The Constitution provides that the Speaker may or may not be an elected Member of the House. The Government and the Opposition normally agree on a candidate.
 
However, if more than one candidate is proposed and seconded, the Assembly proceeds to elect the Speaker by secret ballot.
The Speaker holds office for the duration of the life of Parliament, unless he is removed earlier on by the Assembly.
 
The Speaker is the principal office holder of the House and its spokesperson in relation to the other constituent part of Parliament - the President of the Republic. The Speaker symbolizes the authority of Parliament.
 
Elected Madam Speaker
as from 22 December 2014
The main function of the Speaker is to ensure that the Standing Orders and Rules of the National Assembly are complied with. The Speaker interprets and enforces the Standing Orders and for the purpose of interpretation, recourse is often had to Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, responds to Members' points of order and give rulings when necessary. His ruling cannot be challenged, except on a substantive motion to that effect, and any criticism of his actions outside Parliament may amount to contempt of the National Assembly.

The Speaker decides on the admissibility of Questions to Ministers and on the choice of speakers during the debates and in so doing, he seeks to allocate the call evenly between the government and non-government Members.
 
The Speaker must maintain order during debate, which becomes sometimes unruly. The Speaker can call Members to order for the use of 'unparliamentary language', for misbehaviour, for constant interruptions, for irrelevance in debates and for engaging in private conversations. The Speaker may order a Member, whose conduct is grossly disorderly, to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of the day's sitting. If a Member persistently flouts the authority of the Chair or wilfully obstructs the business of the House, by abusing the Rules of the Assembly, the Speaker is empowered to 'name' the Member.
 
One of the most important qualities of a Speaker is impartiality. He must be above party politics. Once elected to the Chair, he owes his loyalty to the dignity of Parliament.
 
The Speaker has ultimate responsibility, together with the Office of the Clerk, for the administration of Parliament and the operation of the Parliament House. Furthermore, the parliamentary precincts of the National Assembly are under the control and management of the Office of the Speaker.
 
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