Feature Article of Friday, 25 January 2013
Boycotts in Ghanaian politics and her economy go way back, even in Gold Coast days. Perhaps the Nii Bonne led boycott in 1948 comes readily to mind. It was a boycott against European goods. History has it that it was a largely successful boycott that generated a social consciousness and was a necessary precursor for a more aggressive independence struggle.
In 1992, the NPP due to suspicions of electoral manipulations and cheating boycotted the parliamentary elections. The paper, ‘stolen verdict’ was written to make a case.
Fast forward to 2013, after a largely peaceful election, the opposition New Patriotic Party had a cause to complain about election irregularity and challenged the legitimacy of the president in the Supreme Court as per Article 64 clause 1 of the 1992 constitution of our republic.
Then the first boycott was announced, that is, the opposition party together with its Members of Parliament decided not to grace the swearing-in ceremony of President J.D. Mahama. It was a boycott that took a luster away from an otherwise colorful ceremony, even the presence of H.E Kuffuor did not go down well with some party people, and the propagandist too had something to feast on. People started murmuring whether there were further boycotts in the coffin.
Then we heard the announcement of the boycott of parliamentary by-elections in Akatsi South and Buem. A decision that the party secretary explained on the principle that NPP is not in a position to participate in any election conducted by the EC as they have already filed a petition against the Commission over the last elections it run.
The NPP were however quick to state that the boycotts of such by-elections were on, till further notice. Many analyst have posited that the NPP stance on this boycott really harms no one because the seat really is for the ruling NDC, and in their stronghold as well, so cost-wise, the NPP decision is not bad in bad taste, but principle wise, it is been asked if the same reasons will be adduced if the by-elections were to be in the NPP’s stronghold. But hey they said until further notice.
Then we are presented with yet another boycott, and this time of the parliamentary vetting process. In explaining the decision to the public Hon Dominic Nitiwul, the deputy minority leader said “We cannot participate in the vetting process of the current ministers put forward by President Mahama. This is because of the case we have in court; challenging the validity of the election results. For us as a party, caucus and supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), we can’t go and give legitimacy to the executive arm of government and it is important we make that statement very clear…Now if we go and aid in vetting his assistants or appointees then we have virtually accepted that there was no problem with the election…”
And that is where I disagree with the NPP position, as per the rule of Law, President Mahama is the legitimate president, duly sworn in by the Chief justice before parliament. Until the Supreme Court rules otherwise, the business of managing our beloved country is in the hands of H.E John Mahama. We therefore in the spirit of patriotism must help him run the country, however transient we think his tenure is.
I wish to put forward these questions:
1. Will the NPP expect NDC to cooperate fully in running the business of Government if the verdict should be turned in NPP’s favor, considering they have the parliamentary majority now?
2. Does the NPP think the current vetting does not have a long term effect on the country?
3. Is it possible that the NPP can help us choose leaders albeit transient, to help manage this country, until such time the court rules on the substantive matter?
4. Our constitution, in Article 64 Clause 2 states, “A declaration by the Supreme Court that the election of the President is not valid shall be without prejudice to anything done by the President”. Shouldn’t this be a solace to the NPP?
5. Are there negotiators or civil society groups who in the national interest will speak to and get the NPP to reconsider its decision?
I know politics may be very sophisticated, but this quote usually sited by Dr. Arthur Kennedy is apt in most thorny political situations, that “good men at good times should not set bad examples for bad men at bad times”. It is also noteworthy to commend all the political parties for so far handling themselves well and especially the opposition New Patriotic Party, as they seek to use the law and not chaos to further their cause.
I know the battle of the NPP is in the national interest, a case that promises to further strengthen our electoral process and in the long run our democracy. We therefore must tread cautiously and order our steps that our enterprises will uphold the good name of Ghana!
Written by Dr. Nathanael Adjei-Kyeremeh.