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Feature Article of Thursday, 27 December 2012

Columnist: Yahaya, Moses K.

Bring Opposition Into Government for Sake of National Unity.

Moses Kofi Yahaya

I cringed listening to NPP shogun, Obetsibi Lamptey on BBC’s Newsday Radio Program on the day of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections try vainly to rationalize the party’s decision to seek legal redress for what he described as “electoral rigging.” Pressed for any evidence of rigging by the BBC presenter Julian King, Lamptey only muttered, “We will present our evidence in court.” The fallout from the 2012 Presidential elections has been, to put it mildly, melodramatic; throngs of visibly angry NPP supporters having bought into the patently false narrative that electoral victory had been wrested from their hands by the “evil” Dr. Afari Gyan and his “hopelessly corrupt” agency, the Electoral Commission, took to the streets and demanded swift justice. Spurts of violence invariably ensued and marred what would otherwise have been a democratic and poignant expression of dissent. It is hard to lose. Losing does not always bring out the best in people. Losers struggle to understand the rejection, to comprehend how it had come to this. This, in a nutshell, is the predicament of the NPP. Sentimental NDC triumphalists savoring the party’s electoral victory see the intended court action as a subtle way to delegitimize the presidency of John Mahama and have steadfastly maintained that the NPP Is desperately grasping at straws. Need I say that it is an NDC default assumption that the NPP will by this defeat slither into the mists of history. Dream on.

Litigation is a veritable hallmark of democracy and legal challenges, by and large, are preferred methods of resolving disputes. The NPP therefore is well within its constitutionally protected right to seek judiciary intervention in its dispute with the Electoral Commission. However, the NPP ought to be careful where it treads.

Intervention by the judiciary in political disputes of this magnitude has inherent setbacks; for starters, it creates fissures within the aggrieved party where more often than not, the legal option is favored by a select few, mainly the party’s gray-haired elders but frowned upon by a larger majority, the rank and file, who would rather the party graciously accepts its defeat and reboot for the next round of elections. The ramifications of a judiciary intervention aren’t just confined to the party; they reverberate outside the party. As the case winds its way through the legal system, the nation’s attention will be riveted on the proceedings, with party partisans and other hot-heads shouting themselves hoarse on T.V. and radio stations all in a bid to influence the outcome of the proceedings. And, no matter who wins or loses, the nation will become more polarized and bitter. National cohesiveness will sadly be relegated to the background as the parties aggressively pursue their parochial interests.

I am doubly certain that the Supreme Court has no appetite to adjudicate a case that has the potential to taint its carefully cultivated image of impartiality and fairness. Discharge its duties it must, however. The court has no choice, its hands are tied, it is constitutionally bound to listen patiently to the complainant (NPP) and render a verdict based on the preponderance of evidence and the merits and facts of the case. But it is precisely at this juncture that doubts and mistrust about the case are sowed. Remember justices are political animals, too, and despite their public posturing, they harbor political biases. Any rendered verdict will unfortunately be influenced by their political philosophy and party affiliation. Whether the Supreme Court rules in favor of John Mahama or Akuffo Addo, we must still come up with ways to preempt threats to our budding democracy. What about this proposition? The President should as a matter of national unity and reconciliation appoint a few moderate members of the opposition parties as ministers. Need I stress that divergent ideas on how best to run the country are absolutely essential at this stage of our development.

To the ideologically pure in the NDC, bringing the opposition into the government would amount to heresy. How can the President do such a thing they would ask? And for an answer, one should steer them to the immediate post-election period when tensions were sky high and the nation teetered on violence. A presidential gesture of this kind, doubtlessly, will go a long way to soothe ruffled feelings and calm frayed nerves across the political spectrum. Make no mistake, it won’t be cowardice, capitulation or making concessions to the opposition were the President to reach across the aisle. Instead, his action will signal political deftness, maturity and rising above the partisan din by a candidate who made national unity a campaign theme.

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