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Opinions of Saturday, 15 December 2012

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Jake’s song about a rigging machine

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By George Sydney Abugri

Whenever my forecasts hit the big bull between the eyes, I never, ever say I told you so, do I ever, Jomo? Yet, I told you so last week, didn’t, I? Amid the widespread anxiety over the possibility of electoral violence last week, I wrote in this incoherent column last Friday, that as far as elections go in Ghana, “the ever present danger is always that of the loser refusing to accept defeat and assembling his supporters to wreck havoc on peace and security”, didn’t I?

Unless it is the case that you are determined to hand me the undeserved accolade of “Seer of the Century” you will admit that I could not have been referring to NPP presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in particular. How could I when what I wrote could well have applied to President John Mahama under converse circumstances?

After the Electoral Commissioner declared the results of Election 2012, we said “whew! There goes one great grandpa of an election.” Then we were just about to heave a mighty sigh of relief, when Nana Akufo-Addo said, not so fast, countrymen, I am heading to court to get a judge to annul the results of the presidential election.

Why? The NPP says Election 2012 was well and truly rigged, Jomo! According to party chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, a diligent recheck of the election results has revealed that at least 100,000 votes had been added to the tally for President John Mahama in 28 constituencies to give Mahama electoral victory, while New Patriotic Party Candidate Nana Akufo-Addo’s tally had simultaneously been reduced.

So the NPP has threatened to go court to have the results of Election 2012 nullified. No results of a presidential election have ever been set aside by the Supreme Court in Ghana’s political history and while there is always a first time, I have strong doubts about the court doing so in this particular case.

Strangely, no one appears to consider of any significance, a weird page this tale wrote unto itself: A report by the Coalition of Domestic Observers says that it was President Mahama and not Akufo-Addo who was cheated of votes by the Electoral Commission. Really? Yes sir.

The reputable Coalition which undertook a diligent verification of the results using the time-tested Parallel Vote Tabulation {PVT} system, suggested that if the polls had been doctored at all, then it was done to the disadvantage of the NDC and not the NPP!

While the EC’s tabulated figures gave President John Mahama 50.70 percent of the valid votes cast in Election 2012 and Nana Akufo-Addo 47.74 percent of the votes, the CODEO verified that the incumbent actually obtained 51.38 percent of the votes and Nana Akufo-Addo, 47.17. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. That is probably what the judge will mutter himself when he hears the dispute.

It raises the question of whether or not President Mahama might go to court to demand fairness in the ballot count and make the dangerous circus complete! Dr. Afari-Gyan has all but shrugged off the NPP’s threat to go to court. The unofficial ten-star general of African elections says the NPP's allegations are "completely false" but concedes that the party is well within its rights under Ghana’s electoral laws to seek redress at the Supreme Court. Heading for court to seek justice during election disputes is certainly a more democratic alternative to employing violence as a response to perceived cheating. Many listened to the news on Tuesday morning with some apprehension: There were reports quoting some radio broadcasts that NPP leaders and supporters were to go on a march to protest the alleged irregularities in the tabulation of the results of last week’s election.

While freedom of assembly is guaranteed under the law, those who were preparing to protest had not informed the police at least five clear days ahead of the planned march as required by the Public Order Law. The law empowers the police to break up unauthorized protests marches.

I said to myself: hey, how are the cops going to handle this one? Will they wait for a mob to unlawfully assemble and work itself into frenzy so that they can go in with tear gas, water canons, rubber bullets and batons?

The cops are capable of far more constructive and tactical thinking than you might reckon, Jomo: The Greater Accra Police Commander Patrick Timbilla downplayed the bit about the Public Order Law requiring that the police be given at least five days notice of any intended public assembly and asked them to hand in a last minute notification.

Then they made themselves highly visible at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle where party leaders addressed a protest rally.

The events of the past week have unavoidable put the spotlight on the New Patriotic Party: Every developing democracy needs a strong political opposition to balance the forces of domestic power, hold the government accountable for its actions and inactions and constantly remind the government that there is a viable political alternative waiting eagerly in the wings.

The New Patriotic Party whose ideology derives from the Danquah-Busia tradition represents that alternative to its neck-to-neck political rival, the National Democratic Congress in Ghana’s politics today.

The Danquah-Busia political tradition in Ghana has a rich if also controversial history and is held in high Diasporan and international esteem for the intellectual stature and organizational ability of its founders who held the tradition high up to pugnacious glory in years gone by.

Having inherited the legacy of this political tradition, the leadership of the party has in the wake of recent providential developments a tough choice to make and one that requires humility: To tell those who criticize its approach to political partisanship to go to hell and mind their business once they get there or to give the possible need for a review of its structural, administrative, operational, youth orientation and development programs and above all its relationship with its rivals and those who do not belong to the party, some dispassionate thought.

Thanks to its history of militancy symbolized by the “cho-boi!’ battle cry which has roots in the violent and bloody political upheavals of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the foot soldiers of the NDC came to symbolize rebellion and violence in the country’s politics but some say the actions by some NPP supporters seem to suggest that they have picked up the same traits.

The immediate aftermath of Election 2012 and subsequent developments certainly do not appear to have won the NPP many friends. As a matter of fact, its sympathizers have needlessly antagonized the media with their brutal attack on journalists covering the party’s protest rally this week.

The messages of congratulations from distinguished regional and Western leaders to the candidate declared the winner by the Electoral Commission and affirmations of the general fairness of the poll by election observers, have also left the party without many sympathizers in its protests.

I wonder what is up with these politicians, Jomo: They seem unaware that there are approaches to partisan politics that make it possible to steal supporters from a rival’s camp, win friends and charm the huge numbers of floating voters out there who have no poltical affiliation and who make choices by judging from power seekers’ attitudes! Website: Email:

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