General News Sat, 31 Aug 2013

Ghanaians must be grateful to the EC - Tsatsu Tsikata

Tsatsu Tsikata, lead Counsel for the third respondent in the just ended election petition says Ghanaians must be grateful to the Electoral Commission for its excellent record, irrespective of the petitioners’ attempt to discredit its conduct of the 2012 polls.

Speaking on TV3’s Hot Issues on Saturday, after the eight-month long legal battle at the Supreme Court, the lead counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) told show host Kwesi Pratt Jnr. that: “in all the efforts of the petitioners, relatively few examples, really, emerged at the end of the day regarding even double registration”.

Double registration was one of the basis upon which the petitioners were praying the Court to annul 3,931,339 votes in the 2012 presidential elections.

According to the legal luminary, Ghanaians must not lose sight of the great respect and admiration which the Electoral Commission, headed by Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan - who was the second respondent in the election petition - has acquired the world over for its work since 1992, when the country returned to multi-party democracy.

“I don’t think that anything that happened in the election petition can take away from the sheer quality of work that the Election Commission has done over the years”, emphasized Mr Tsikata.

Although many people have interpreted Justice Dotse’s “elections in Ghana will never be the same again [after the election petition]” comments – during the petition hearing – to mean there would be major reforms in Ghana’s electoral process, Mr Tsikata, however, believes apart from minor improvements in training for presiding officers, and about the meanings of certain terms on the ballot accounting sheets, there would not be the need for major reforms.

“I can’t see what [major] reforms we should really be talking about…I would like to see, even in Judgement…a little more detail in what reforms [the Judges would prescribe]”, he said.

Tsatsu Tsikata is touted as one of Ghana’s best legal minds. Although the petitioners initially sued President John Mahama and the Electoral Commission for overturning the will of the people in the 2012 presidential elections, the NDC, led by Mr Tsitsaka, pleaded to join the case – a plea which was granted by the Court after some legal wrangling.

Many believe Mr Tsikata’s legal prowess contributed immensely to the decision by the Supreme Court to throw out the case brought before them by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the first petitioner and presidential candidate in the 2012 elections; Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the second petitioner and Vice presidential candidate in the same election, and Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

In the August 29 final ruling, the panel of nine judges unanimously dismissed three claims by the petitioners: that the Electoral Commission conducted elections at polling stations unknown to the petitioners; that there were duplicate polling station codes on Election Declaration Forms, and duplicate serial numbers on Election Declaration Forms (or pink sheets).

The Court in a 5-4 decision, also threw out the claims of voting without biometric verification and same for the claim of over-voting at some polling stations.

Source: joyonline