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Politics of Sunday, 31 January 2010

Source: Daily Guide Network

Greenlight for NPP congress

At long last, the Kumasi High Court 2 has given permission to the Ashanti regional branch of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to hold its regional delegates’ congress.

Several attempts by the party to organize its regional delegates’ congress to elect its regional officers have failed to materialize due to protracted court litigations.

Originally, the congress was slated to take place on November 15, 2009, but it did not come off as scheduled due to some outstanding court litigations filed by some of the constituency members.

After that misfortune, the congress was rescheduled for December 30, 2009, but again, it could not work out following the placement of an interlocutory injunction order on the congress.

On December 23, 2009 Nana Adu Asabere sought an injunction from the Kumasi High Court 2, restraining the national and regional executives of the party from holding the regional delegates’ congress.

Nana Asabere’s concern at the time was that 14 constituencies in the region were yet to organize their constituency elections, hence the holding of a regional delegates’ congress would, by design, disenfranchise delegates from those constituencies.

Unfortunately, the duration of the injunction was extended and the case was adjourned to January 27, 2010 when it was first called for hearing on Monday, January 11, 2010.

The court, presided over by Justice Jacob Boon, upheld the plea for extension after counsel for the plaintiff, Owusu Sekyere, had indicated that eight more constituencies were yet to hold their elections.

Though counsel for the defendants, Dennis Agyei, humbly pleaded with the court to lift the injunction to enable his clients organize their congress, Justice Boon did not budge but extended the duration of the order.

Hoping to get a go-ahead from the court to organize the congress, the party fixed January 19, 2010 for the congress, but that date had to be changed when the injunction was extended rather than lifted.

Confident that the court would strike out the order at its sitting on the January 27, the National Council, the second highest decision-making body of the party, at a meeting fixed the much-anticipated congress for Thursday, January 28.

For the umpteenth time, this treasured dream of the party was crushed on Thursday when Justice Boon again refused to strike out the injunction order.

Appearing resolute to convince Justice Boon to strike out the order, Mr. Agyei informed the court that all constituencies in the region, except one, had held their elections.

In his efforts to persuade the court to lift the order, the renowned lawyer drew the court’s attention to the fact that Article 7 of the party’s constitution authorizes the party to hold a regional congress when one third of delegates are confirmed.

The Ashanti regional president of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) contended that the plaintiff’s action had become mute with respect to time, therefore praying the court to disregard the injunction.

Mr. Agyei further pleaded with the court to consider the supreme interest of the party and relegate the interest of individuals to the background by striking out the order to enable the party hold their congress.

He contended that the party is working with a schedule; therefore the continuous postponement of the regional congress due to the injunction was throwing the party’s plans out of gear.

Mr. Agyei stressed that the constant adjournment of the Ashanti regional congress was causing untold inconveniences to the party as the national delegates’ congress, billed for February 27, had been affected.

Taking his turn to address the court, Mr. Sekyere pleaded with the court not to lift the injunction, arguing that the concerns of his client were still relevant.

He explained that once there was still one constituency yet to hold its constituency elections; it would not be fair for the party to conduct the congress because such an action would disenfranchise delegates from that constituency.

Mr. Sekyere refuted Mr. Agyei’s argument that Article 7 of the party’s constitution gives approval for a regional congress to be held when one third of delegates are confirmed.

He quoted Article 7 Section 13 of the party’s constitution which talks about membership of the party’s delegates, emphasizing that the mention of constituency executives as part of the membership was paramount and should therefore not be disregarded.

The young legal luminary said once the membership of the constituency executives were not complete due to the absence of executives from the Asokwa constituency, the holding of the congress would constitute a breach of the party’s constitution.

At the time of sitting, the Asokwa constituency was the only one in the region that had not yet elected its officers due to a similar injunction order.

After listening to the arguments put forward by both counsels, Justice Boon said he needed time to study the presentations before he could make an informed decision on the matter, he therefore adjourned sitting to January 29, 2010.

Ostensibly devastated by the development, Peter Mac Manu, the party’s National Chairman, politely made an appeal to Justice Boon to come to their aid by lifting the injunction to enable the party hold its congress.

Inspite of his sad commentary that the party’s calendar would be markedly affected in the wake of a further adjournment of the case, Justice Boon did not tamper justice with mercy, adjourning the sitting anyway.

Unable to do anything about the judgment, Mr. Mac Manu, who was accompanied by party gurus such as Dr. Anthony Osei Akoto, Elizabeth Agyeman, Kofi Jumah, Yaw Amankwah and others, left the court room dejected.

Fortunately, when the case was called on Friday morning, Mr. Sekyere announced to the court that his client was not interested in continuing with the case, therefore the court should strike out the injunction.

This, according to him, was primarily because the concerns which motivated his client to seek the injunction from the court had been adequately addressed.

Mr. Sekyere explained that his client is fully satisfied because all the constituencies in the region have conducted their elections to select their officers who will be part of the congress.

After the announcement was made, Justice Boon declared that the court could not continue hanging on to the case. He therefore announced that he had struck out the injunction.

Strangely, Justice Boon did not award any cost against the defendant or the plaintiff as is normally done when a case is struck out.

The Asokwa Constituency, which was the only constituency yet to hold its elections, did so on Thursday after the same court on Wednesday struck out an injunction placed on it by some aggrieved polling station executives in the constituency.

Apparently relieved by the striking out of the injunction, John Kusi Boakye, Chairman of the Election Committee, told DAILY GUIDE that the congress will come off on Monday at the Cultural Centre in Kumasi.

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