Politics of Sunday, 8 July 2012
Ghana at the weekend launched a summarized Manual and Statutes on Elections Adjudication to facilitate an increased and efficient use of the legal system by stakeholders conducting and monitoring elections in Ghana.
The Manual also seeks to help ensure Ghanaians right to live under a peaceful and fairly elected government.
Developed by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), an NGO on Human Rights, the manual aimed at strengthening the Judiciary to deal with human rights abuses during Election 2012 and also map-up strategies to build public consensus on electoral disputes.
The manual focuses on hierarchy of courts in Ghana, jurisdictional limits in handling election disputes; procedure of presidential disputes; procedure for parliamentary disputes; appellate jurisdiction in relation to parliamentary disputes and electoral disputes; raising issues of interpretation or enforcement of the 1992 Constitution.
Other issues are deadlines for presentation of election disputes; grounds for an election petition; scrutiny as further ground for cancelling of election result; reliefs which may be granted by the court; election offences – registration, nomination papers and the ballot, campaigning for votes, treating, undue influence, interferences with electioneering activities of other persons.
Activities prohibited on polling day includes defacement of notices, publication of false statement, obstruction of officers, unauthorized voting and impersonation, offences by electoral officers, requirement of secrecy, and sanctions for election offences.
Ms Daphne Lariba Nabila, LRC Acting Executive Director, told the Ghana News Agency that, in view of legal challenges associated with election disputes, the Centre has embarked on advocating for a specialized legal mechanism to deal with election disputes with the objective of improving the process and eliminating the violence that surrounds potential election disputes.
“To this end, we have developed a manual for the benefit of citizens and law enforcement bodies. The right of Ghanaians to peacefully challenge election results and election offences through the court is a right that is rooted in the Ghanaian Constitution,” Ms Nabila said.
She explained that the manual contains a wealth of information on the legislation and legal mechanisms for dealing with election disputes as they arise.
The project is being sponsored by STAR-Ghana, a multi-donor pooled funding mechanism (funded by DFID, DANIDA, EU and USAID) to increase the influence of civil society and Parliament in the governance of public good and service delivery, with the ultimate goal of improving the accountability and responsiveness of government, traditional authorities and the private sector.**