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Why Is The Electoral Commission Mocking Our Democracy?
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Opinions of Thursday, 23 March 2006

Columnist: Antwi, William

Why Is The Electoral Commission Mocking Our Democracy?


Our embattled but fearless Chief Justice and his Supreme Court are now joined at the hip over the political and legal firestorm surrounding the results of the December 7, 2004 Presidential elections. In fact, the central issue involved in this full-blown controversy is not muddled at all. That is; shouldn?t we be asking why the Electoral Commission (E.C.) is not publishing in the gazette ?or in any manner permitted by law?, the full and complete results of the December 7, 2004 Presidential Elections?

At first glance, one might be wondering what is scaring the E.C. from officially publishing the said election results more than a year after the Chairman of the E.C., Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan had declared our sitting President the winner? Why should the E.C. be afraid of the shadow of official results it had publicly declared? Is there something in its arsenal that when revealed will jeopardize the very legitimacy and security of this government and for that matter our system of government? In all earnest, does the E.C. really need the assistance of the Supreme Court before discharging its constitutionally ordained mission of officially publishing the said election results in the gazette?

Realizing the central and pivotal role election results were going to play in our chosen path of governance, the framers of our - at times maligned - constitution placed on the E.C. that enormous burden of managing all public elections and referenda in the country. It is fair then to state that the very existence of the E.C. carries with it the responsibility of fearlessly and efficiently prosecuting the electoral laws of the land which includes not only supervising and conducting these public elections and referenda, but also accurately reporting the tallied votes and publishing the same in the gazette or in any other manner permitted by law. Does the EC want us to believe that it is antagonistic toward its very noble role of grand fathering our electoral system by its refusal to publish the said election results in the gazette? Needless to say that such publication positively assures all stakeholders of the authenticity of the numbers previously declared and announced by the E.C. There is practically no way we can operate a functional democracy if our E.C. does not have the political and moral courage to dutifully publish election results in the gazette or in any manner permitted by law. So we ask again, why can?t the E.C. just publish the said results and shame its ?detractors? and cynics like me? Why?

It is worth recalling here that until this political and legal battle, the E.C. had served the nation extremely well by staying above the political fray. In fact, in fulfilling its well-designed constitutional role, the E.C. - to its credit and the envy of our democratic partners - had successfully conducted and supervised five Presidential elections. And, in all those elections all stakeholders had accepted its word and judgment. This clearly explains why the nation had richly experienced smooth transfer of political power after each of those Presidential elections. The E.C. has largely come to represent what is fair and transparent in conducting and supervising public elections in our country. Some of us are therefore ?shocked and awed? by the Commission?s wayward stand in not publishing in the gazette the results of the December 7, 2004 Presidential election. Isn?t the Electoral Commission setting a dangerous precedent by its stubborn refusal to gazette the said election results more than one year after the said election? Should we be left to speculate how future vanquished candidates will react toward the E.C.?s word that they have lost an election? Would they readily accept its word as the revered Prof Mills honorably did after the Chairman of the E.C., Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, had declared President Kuffour the winner?

It is therefore our civic duty to tell the Chairman of the Electoral Commission in no uncertain language that he is seriously undermining the hard won integrity and credibility of his august outfit by his pointless and uninspired stand in this grave matter. Yes, the sole culprit in the E.C.?s blatant refusal to come clean on the said presidential elections is its integrity. Its public image is receiving some savage pounding from the unflattering publicity it has been garnering since those three concerned Ghanaians took it to court to compel it to officially publish the said results in the gazette. After all, what is democracy if state institutions like the E.C. wrap themselves in secrecy over such simple matters as officially publishing results of well-contested elections? The unshaded truth is that to maximize transparency and accountability in our system of government, a state institution like the E.C. must not only open its books to all and sundry but must publish all results of public elections and referenda in the gazette or in any manner permitted by law without let or hindrance. And, such publication must be done with dispatch. All said, the Chairman and other members of his commission are egregiously violating the sanctity of their office by refusing to publish the said results. It is that simple.

We are being told to shut up because maybe the very legitimacy of this presidency is at stake and that the nation does not need a constitutional crisis that may cripple the growth of our evolving democracy! What nonsense! How do we as a nation grow our democracy if we continue to sweep under the rug such blatant act of constitutional malpractice on the part of the E.C.? How do we prepare for the future if we can?t deal in an honest and open manner today?s constitutional afflictions? Why should we as a people postpone a constitutional crisis just to perpetuate a wrong which can easily be rectified if our leaders eschew their selfish political ambitions in favor of consensus building?

Oh! we nearly forgot: Hasn?t this controversy exposed the raging hypocrisy of some individuals and groups - and they know themselves - who years back under the NDC would have taken to the streets and airwaves and news prints to condemn such naked display of arrogance and abuse of power by the E.C.? Where is their outrage? When did well-established democratic principles like transparency take a nose-dive with a change of government? Why have they lost their voices, now? Why? What they should not forget is that our democratic gods are watch their hypocrisy with anger!

To the Chairman of the EC we are just saying: Please publish the said results because the public is thirsty for the truth and in fact publishing them is not in any way going to hurt our democracy. It is rather going to burnish the image of your institution and our infantile democracy. However, the longer you play that cat-and-mouse legal and political game with the public, the deeper you sow seeds of distrust and suspicion among the general population - the very people you have sworn to serve with dignity and candor. That, Sir, is inimical to our still nascent democracy!




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