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Opinions of Sunday, 6 January 2013

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Spicing up the tale for the Supreme Court

…or a prologue to President Mahama’s inauguration on Monday

It is my hapless lot to daily plead the cause of old Karl Marx’s long-suffering masses or the common people of the republic if you like, but no one ever listens to me, Jomo. At best, they treat me like a circus clown, a nagging irritant best ignored. Plain old pride won’t permit them to avail themselves of my great wisdom, Jomo:

Alright, I confess to being an unmitigated and unrepentant verbal contortionist but the imagery I conjure up is often no less factual than the theme it portrays, so there is no justification in pleading miscomprehension of my pre-election counsel offered free for the good of the republic, is there?

In “Why Akufo-Addo and President Mills must take the Banda oath” {18, May, 2012}, I recalled how weeks to the election that brought Michael Sata to power in Zambia in 2011, incumbent President Rupiah Banda assured the nation that the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) would accept the results of the election and how Banda went on to warn that “I can only speak for myself and my party when I say that we will abide by the results.” I suggested that where the incumbent makes a public declaration during a presidential election, to the effect that he will accept the outcome of the election but goes on to add that he can only speak for himself, it would only be fair to bind the incumbent’s rival to the same pledge. My suggestion that the NPP’s and NDC’s presidential candidates take an oath to accept the result of the presidential election was not an invitation to blackmail a candidate cheated of victory to accept defeat but one premised on the reasonable assumption that with all safeguards having been taken {to the incumbent’s satisfaction as in Banda’s case} to minimize the risk of widespread electoral fraud, the chances of the election being rigged would be close to zero, see?

All parties went to Election 2012 apparently satisfied that the playing field was level. Is that not the way it has been with most elections across the continent which then went on to end in bloody conflicts?

A presidential election comes to an end. The Electoral Commissioner announces the result. The loser concedes the winner’s victory and the winner thanks all and sundry for giving him the mandate to rule and promises not to let them down. Political rivals then live happily ever after. There go some wishful scenarios from the perfect world.

Most regrettably, the prefect world does not exist and reality with elections is quite different, especially on a continent where post-election conflicts have sent hundreds of thousands of innocent souls to impromptu graves and driven states to total ruination.

So then, the oath I suggested should have been taken. On second thought, if there were indeed crying evidence that the election had indeed been rigged, why, Nana Akufo-Addo would be well within his rights to break the oath and litigate the result at the Supreme Court as he has done.

The NPP’s petition is not one aimed at obtaining a Supreme Court ruling for a re-run of the poll. The party wants the Supreme Court to declare a colossal 1.3 million of the votes cast in the presidential election null and void and consequently install Nana Akufo-Addo as president in the place of President Mahama who will be inaugurated on Monday.

The NDC spiced up the tale for the Supreme Court when its legal team showed up at the court this week and demanded that the party be joined in the NPP’s suit since the party had an interest in the outcome of the case. The Electoral Commission and President Mahama are joint defendants in the suit but the NDC argues that it was the party that fielded President Mahama as its candidate.

Does that suggest that the NDC, if joined to the suit, would be going to the Supreme Court with a bulging portfolio of its own evidence to try and turn the tables on the NPP? It is reasonable to assume so.

What are the implications of the entry of the NDC into the case as a defendant, since the NPP’s original petition excludes any dispute with the party? That is what I am sitting here scratching my poor skull like a flea-tormented baboon, trying to figure out.

It has been suggested that one of several scenarios would unavoidably play out at the Supreme Court: The court chucks the petition right out of the window and we get on with this business of hurrying Oman Ghana along the path of true, unpretentious democracy and progress.

The court annuls the election of President Mahama. Nana Akufo-Addo is then sworn in as president and we all live very happily ever after, otherwise the great grandmother of post-election conflicts in West Africa erupts:

We all get killed and end up in Hell or Heaven, where the NPP’s and NDC’s acrimonious relationship continues uninterrupted, complete with perpetually animated party foot soldiers and “serial callers” keeping the malicious propaganda going at full steam, to the rhythm of the choir of angels or sound of Satan’s horn as the case might be. In a recent editorial comment cut in the publication’s characteristically crisp prose, The Economists informed its readers in the opening paragraph, that “ A booth in Accra, Ghana’s capital, houses the Kwame Nkrumah Bookshop, where Cubist pictures of the country’s first president lean against a dusty window pane...”, I do not recall the exact location of the bookshop in Accra but never mind. The Economist then goes on to declare that, “despite disputes over an election result, Ghana is still a success story.” The comment appears to invite Ghanaians to a positive recollection of what has been achieved in Ghana’s humble if also troubled pursuit of real democracy since Dr. Nkrumah to date and an optimistic anticipation of a great future. If you think in doing so, one of the world’s most respected publications has downplayed the significance of the election dispute as a blight on our democracy, why, I would score you ten points out of ten for accuracy. The United Kingdom-based firm Maplecroft which monitors elections around the world and advises potential investors and businesses on high-risk investment destinations, thinks the dispute over the result of the presidential election in Ghana needs to be settled quickly and the outcome accepted by both parties, “if material damage to investor confidence in the country is to be kept minimal.” There we are then old chap. President Mahama will be sworn into office on Monday, come high water and blue thunder and many heads of state will be in attendance. I told you that the NPP having disputed the result of the presidential election would be in a quandary over the question of whether or not to attend the historic occasion didn’t I?

Kofi Jack says he is curious to see if NPP leaders will turn up for the ceremony and so am I, old chap.