PRESS RELEASE April 22, 2013
ELECTION PETITION COLLAPSING GHANA CeDI-Africa Warns!
Behind the veil of the acrimony, propaganda, fanfare with live telecast of proceedings, and occasional humorous commentary, there are the real issues of what the whole election petition process will leave Ghana with.
The drafters of our Constitution and the makers of our laws on presidential election petitions failed to anticipate the present situation we are trapped in. We are beset by two unyielding parties: On the one hand is an opposition that has served ample notice of non-commitment to the development agenda of the country unless their partisan political goal of assuming the reins of government is realized. On the other hand is a government (executive) that is clearly preoccupied with consolidating her rule rather than tackling critical national issues. We are convinced that the verdict of the Supreme Court will not resolve the political crisis Ghana is saddled with. We daresay, consequently, that Ghana is bound for 4 unproductive years in her governance with attendant irreparable damage to her institutions unless urgent steps are taken by all well-meaning partners towards conciliation and consensus-building amongst the political actors and their followers even as the Supreme Court considers the petition before it.
There is an urgent need for reforms of our electoral processes on the grounds that; 1. It is unfair for the true winner of an election, who has not been so declared, to go through a protracted petition and judicial process to get the right to rule, if at all. That amounts to injustice to him or her and the good people who elected him. A case in point is that of George Isaac Amoo who got declared by the court as the true winner of Ayawaso West Wuogon Parliamentary seat in the 1996 election when the term of that parliament was almost over. It is equally unfair for a winner of an election who, though having been declared, is been challenged and, as a side-effect, is subjected to perpetual mischievous abuse, name-calling and detraction. These side-effects undeniably would impede his or her ability to effectively rule and deliver on his/her mandate. Again, the current petition process lends itself to too much mischief.
The loser of an election can resort to the process just to derail the governance process, spite the winner of the election and create legitimacy questions for the duly elected government. The consequences of such legitimacy questions on the international front cannot be over-emphasized. 2. The country would be polarised beyond repair from the protracted petition process and the eventual winner would have an uphill task reconciling the nation to get on with the business of nation-building. The real practical challenges and the social-developmental cost of a transfer of power after one wrongfully declared person has been sworn in makes reform even more urgent, especially noting that every election could be the subject of a challenge and petition. CeDI-Africa is committed to critical research and broad stakeholder consultations with a view to making proposal that would make the process better.
We should also draw the nation’s attention to the palpable wastage associated with the live telecast of the petition. Any attempt at estimating the amount of daily economic loss owing to the live telecast would be pure conjecture since Ghana has no reliable way of computing productivity. What is clear however is that WASSCE candidates are watching the live telecast from 10am till the close of proceedings, public sector workers, private sector workers, government officials, and probably even the president, would be watching the proceedings throughout the working day. This would cripple Ghana if not checked. WE ARE CALLING FOR AN IMMEDIATE STOP TO THE LIVE TELECAST AND PROPOSING A RECORDED TRANSMISSION OF THE PROCEEDINGS AT THE CLOSE OF WORK. Democracy is expensive, we reckon, but the expense of democracy crosses the borders of sanity if it has the potential to collapse the nation. Lastly, the worrying trend of denigration of constitutionally established institutions needs the attention of all citizens.
The Electoral Commission has come under excessive unnecessary vituperative attacks in the wake of the election challenge. It serves no one any good if we destroy the institutions that have been established to work for us and to secure our democracy. We note with concern the NPP’s boycott of Parliamentary run-offs with the excuse of mistrust for the Electoral Commission.
Without pre-empting the outcome of the petition trial, we are left to wonder if the NPP would participate in a presidential run-off if that were the ruling of the Supreme Court since that would also be organised by the same Electoral Commission. Multi-party politics should make Ghana a better place, not tear her apart. For enquiries, please contact Bernard Ohemeng-Baah (Executive Director) on 0547 016 209 / 0509 351 144 .