15 August, 2013
On August 29th, the Supreme Court will decide on the Election petition filed by Nana Akufo-Addo et al.
The decision will be momentous.
In the last few weeks, there has been a lot of speculation on how the court should rule. Unfortunately, the already tense atmosphere has been exacerbated by partisans of both sides. The rank and file of both the NPP and the NDC have been led to believe that victory for their side is assured. The result is that most NPP supporters expect Nana Akufo-Addo to be sworn in as President while a majority of NDC supporters expect President Mahama to serve out his term. Fanatics on both sides have hinted with increasing urgency that acceptance of the Supreme Court’s ruling will depend upon delivering a “just” decision for their side.
Indeed, reasonable people know that it is possible for the Court to either grant in full or in part, the reliefs sought by the petitioners or deny them. The court, in this case, will be final not because it is infallible—it will be infallible because it is final. The Court has the sole prerogative of determining what “justice” will be in this case. This court, like every human institution, is not perfect. One only has to look at how it has handled the contempt cases to be convinced of this. The spectacle that occurred with Sir John yesterday echoed the presumption of guilt associated with Napoleonic justice and our own revolutionary justice too loudly for comfort. It may be that bad cases are not the most fertile grounds on which to defend important principles. While on the topic, I urge the court, to boldly go beyond the reliefs sought by the petitioners and address the glaring defects in our political and judicial systems that have been uncovered by this case. However, this moment is not about the court--- It is about the rest of us and whether we will do our duty to our country. And for good measure, it is not about the NPP or the NDC or about our judiciary. It should be about whether Ghana matters more than any institutions, principles or people within it. This is not about which side wins power—it is about how Ghana can survive and move on as a viable nation.
We are located on a continent that is no stranger to election related violence. Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Liberia , Ivory Coast--- to mention only some have all suffered the consequences of election disputes that could not be resolved peacefully. As a student leader, I saw a Ghana where there was no law, no democracy and sometimes no peace. I fought for the return of democracy and nearly paid with my life. I have spent my treasure, my energy and my time in service of my party and my country. Therefore, I can put my commitment to democracy beside that of anybody in Ghana. I declare here, on behalf of the silent majority that we prefer a peaceful Ghana with an imperfect democracy to destroying Ghana in pursuit of some perverted definition of justice.
Therefore, when the ruling comes down, the leaders of both political parties must accept the court’s decision and pledge their parties to the same. Indeed, between now and judgment day, President Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo can lower the tension significantly by pledging publicly that regardless of the outcome, the loser will NOT seek a review by the entire Supreme Court.
Second, the media should not permit itself to be used by those seeking to incite violence. Unfortunately, there has been irresponsible talk by some linking peace to victory for their side. We should not accept that. We should hold accountable any media outlet that becomes an accessory to the incitement of violence. Third, the security forces must be out in full force to prevent violence. They must deal firmly with the violent as well as their instigators.
Finally, we must pray, fervently, for peace, for love and for Ghana. May we continue to be the light of Africa. Let us move forward—together.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy