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Opinions of Sunday, 2 June 2013

Columnist: Agyemang, Felix

After the Supreme Court, Where and What Next

with the Ongoing Election Petition?

Looking into a possible stability threat

Potential benefits of the Ongoing Electoral Case

There is little or no doubt about the wide array of benefits which the ongoing electoral petition affords democratic dispensation in Ghana, by way of strengthening institutions of state, especially the Electoral Commission, and the Supreme Court. Notwithstanding the outcome of the petition with regards to whether there were mere electoral errors or statutory violations in the 2012 Presidential elections, many Ghanaians could be assured of a better prepared and positively reformed Electoral Commission, and a Judiciary that is stretched, tried and tested to the highest limit. The ability of state security apparatus to guarantee absolute protection of actors, observers and the general public in fierce political contests is equally on trial, a platform for testing and improving the strength of security institutions. Indeed, the opportunity of understanding electoral and judicial processes which the ongoing petition presents the citizenry of Ghana cannot in any way be overestimated. It will be a serious error of omission, perhaps statutory violation for anyone to be oblivious of these potential benefits of the ongoing electoral dispute.
Risk of Losing the Potential Benefits
That articulated, these potentials benefits stand the risk of being undone by a negative trend which has set into the body politics of Ghana, perhaps since the inception of the 4th Republic. Notwithstanding the necessity of strong institutions in the consolidation of developmental growth especially in developing Africa, which emerges as a common proposition by inter alia, political commentators, analysts, and development practitioners across the world, the actions of politicians and political activists in Ghana towards institutions of state have been very repulsive. Stemming from at least the last three general elections, there is little ambiguity on the traditional path of institutional denigration, adopted by activists and grass root supporters of the two main political parties (NDC, NPP) in instances of defeat. Though not proven guilty, the image of the Electoral Commission of Ghana is tarnished possibly beyond repairs by the efforts of some politicians. Indeed, emerging developments with the ongoing petition suggest the preparedness and propensity of these political parties and their activists to knock-down, every state institution that stands their way in pursuit of political agenda.
The looming threat
After running down the electoral commission which has otherwise been internationally acclaimed as one of the best in Africa (though not perfect), the integrity of the highest court of the land stands accused by these political activists. Without shame, they have rallied behind various organisations mostly political, in an attempt to denigrate the integrity of some of the judges (if not all) of the Supreme Court, in pursuit of their egocentric interest. On the altars of freedom of speech, these activists have devised schemes, geared at setting some of the members of the bench (including the President) against the public. Minds are being politically prepared to vitiate and reject the verdict of the Supreme Court. It is pathetic how susceptible some Ghanaians have been in relation to this appalling tactics.
Over the years, we have been spared the possible explicit impacts of these political attempts at institutional denigration and disintegration. Perhaps, it might have stemmed from the availability of arguably, less politically tarnished legal mechanisms which afford opportunity of seeking peaceful redress. However, in the face of the ongoing political antagonisation of the Supreme Court in relation to the petition, the state appears exhaustive with regards to subsequent legal remedy. We are gradually reaching the crescendo of peaceful legal containment beyond which things might horribly escalate.
Yes, many international commendations have been accorded political actors of Ghana for recourse to constitution in seeking redress in electoral dispute, and there is multiplicity of benefits which the ongoing electoral petition affords the state. HOWEVER, with the highest court of the land accused, maligned and politically injured, where and what is next with the ongoing electoral dispute? A question for the critical minds of Ghana, to reflect. The consolidated peace and stability of Ghana looks fragile.

AUTHOR OF ARTICLE:
Felix S.K. Agyemang,
M.Phil in Planning Growth and Regeneration,
University of Cambridge.
skfagyemang@gmail.com