Can we now focus?

Charlotte Osei Pretty Newly Charlotte Osei, Electoral Commissioner

Sat, 12 Nov 2016 Source: Samuel Alesu-Dordzi

It should not matter if a thousand political parties decide to contest in this year’s election. Those who qualify should be allowed to partake in them. To that extent, unnecessary and pedantic impediments should not be placed in the way of the parties.

We have had a roller coaster in the past few days of legal battles involving the Eectoral Commission (EC) and the political parties. And that should come to an end.

It is time to focus. The elections are under a month away. The last thing we want is constant news of court battles. If there is something broken, it should be possible for us to fix it.

For starters, there was no point in the countless legal battles that ensued after the EC decided to disqualify some of the presidential candidates.

The EC could have simply allowed the parties a reasonable window of opportunity to rectify whatever anomalies there were with the forms.

Anyone who has been around the courts will admit that the posture of the court has also been to try as much as possible to do substantial justice between the parties.

There are truckloads of cases in which the court had looked mercifully on the errors of litigants so far as they were not grave and did not cause any other party harm.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court has had the last word. It is time for us to refocus and commit ourselves to support the EC and by extension the state in whatever way that we can in order to ensure that we have a smooth and successful election.

Enough of the calls for the Electoral Commissioner to resign. Enough of the name-calling. Enough of the side comments and insults. Enough of the imputation of ill-will on the commission. Enough of the threats.

It is time for us to focus. The call for us to focus is equally true for the EC. It has to focus as well. It has to be constructive in its approach. It has to engage with the various actors – be they civil society or the political parties.

This is not the time to adopt an antagonistic posture. This is simply time for us to have an election; and we must not lose sight of it.

We are what we are significantly because of what we have been able to do in our elections. The holding of elections every four years is something to be proud about.

At this stage, it should not even cause any form of disruption in our lives (even though we have instances of them every now and then).

Thankfully, these disruptions have not led to any disastrous consequences for us as a nation. But we cannot rest on our oars. As I write, elections continue to be one of our major claims to fame on the African Continent.

And even though the peaceful handing over of power time after time means nothing in itself, it translates into at the very least investor confidence in a continent plagued with so many instances of flawed elections and electoral violence.

Democracy is our chosen path. Elections are the vehicles we have procured to carry us through it. The toil and sweat of the citizenry are the fuel to power these vehicles. And since it is the product of our collective efforts, we must guard it cautiously and jealously.

A lot of people have said and it is so true - we must not for a moment take the peace and stability we enjoy as a nation for granted. And one of the best ways to achieve this is to have an impartial EC.

I have watched the supporters of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) swell up in front of the court premises. I have watched other political parties mass up supporters at their calls.

I have watched politicians marshal scores of people unto the street. And I have no doubt that these supporters are always at the call of their political masters. We must therefore act with circumspection.

It is time to focus. Like I have already indicated, let’s get the drama out of the way. Let’s focus on the real issues.

Elections should not be the most important thing in our lives. At least let’s remember it is a means to an end. And frankly that’s all that should matter.

Columnist: Samuel Alesu-Dordzi