Abraham Amaliba, a member of the legal team of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has postulated that for the Supreme Court’s seven-day time frame for the filing of election petition to be effective, the constitution of the country will have to be amended to accommodate it.Abraham Amaliba avers that, the article that deals with electoral-related issues, with respect to petitions by presidential candidates, is an entrenched one that allows aggrieved parties a window of twenty-one days and that a change of same can only be achieved through a referendum.
He said that the recommendations of the Election Manual Review Committee cannot override the dictates of the constitution.
“If they insist that it is an amendment, then I find it difficult to appreciate that because the whole of Chapter 8 of Article 64 is an entrenched clause, and so we’d need some form of a referendum to have that change from 21 to seven days. So as we speak now, it is still the law, and that Manual cannot amend that provision,” he noted.
Abraham Amaliba also expressed disquiet with the decision to reduce the window of filing of petition from twenty-one to seven days.
He stated that the window may not allow petitioners to gather enough evidence for their case.
Amaliba who recognizes the need to avoid a repetition of the protracted election petition of 2012 is unhappy with the 42-day period suggested by the Supreme Court.
“It depends on how quickly a petitioner can assemble their evidence. We go to court with evidence, and so the framers of the constitution thought that 21 days was enough to put together evidence after the results of an election have been declared. And so I think that in order not to stampede a petitioner to go to court without evidence, the 21 days is still the best”.
Justice Jones Dotse of the Supreme Court announced earlier this week, that the apex court will use 42 days to settle any presidential petition that will come out of the 2020 elections.
“There’s a nice write-up on the manual which indicates that the Supreme Court is proposing that, should there be any dispute, it will not go beyond 42 days,” he stated.