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Supreme Court did it in Kenya & Malawi. Will Ghana be next?

Thu, 11 Feb 2021 Source: Enimil Ashon

“Stulti est se decipere” is a Latin proverb meaning “Self-deception is the mark of a fool”. Forgive me if I have over-used this proverb in this column: the second time in less than a year. Wish I could find another way of putting my case across to a people who are as hell-bent on deceiving themselves to self-destruction as Ghanaians are.

As long as nobody can stop anybody from being suspicious of the motives and goings on between incumbent Presidents and Electoral Commission Chairpersons of Ghana, there will always be a Supreme Court intervention to decide the outcome of presidential elections in Ghana; that is, until one day (Tofiakwa!) a very violent desperado decides that he/she won’t go down alone – that the whole should burn.

Desperation sets in when losing candidates begin to reason and conclude, even if unjustifiably and erroneously, that no Supreme Court in Ghana would ever overturn the result of an election when the President-elect has already been sworn in on January 7.

But need NDC throw their hands up in despair? I say, no, because I am not convinced that the Supreme Court judges have made up their minds against Mahama. Besides, there are examples within Africa where election results have been cancelled by courts weeks and even months after they had been “won” by incumbent Presidents.

In Kenya, the Supreme Court overturned the results of the 2017 election which had been won by Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent. It was proved in court that the votes had been electronically manipulated to assure victory for Uhuru.

The 2017 election petition was not the first by Raila Odinga. After the country’s March 4, 2013 election, which he lost, he went to court. That first time, however, the court dismissed his case.

Next after Kenya is Malawi where the apex court, in February 2020, annulled that country’s 2019 presidential election that had been declared for incumbent Peter Mutharika. The court discovered “massive irregularities” in the election that became known as “Tipp Ex” because white correction fluid was used to alter figures.

I am stressing these examples to plead with Ghanaian presidential hopefuls that the courts remain our best, and should be the only, resort.

But we are not all sane men. Here and there are mad men riding in V8s.

That is why Ghanaians must stop deceiving ourselves. The time has come to call for proposals. I have one: give me the American system. They go to polls on “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November” and inaugurate the President on January 20, enough time-lapse for every election dispute to have been settled.

This columnist is proposing that the 1992 Constitution be amended to stretch the period between the election (including a re-run), the declaration and inauguration.

Which brings me to the Constitution Review Commission set up by President Atta Mills on January 11, 2010. The Commission did submit its report to government on December 11, 2010.

In a White Paper, the Mills Government agreed with the Commission’s recommendation (the people’s wish) “that the Constitution be amended to give the President a free hand to appoint Ministers from within or without Parliament.”

The Commission also wanted the Office of the Attorney General separated from a Ministry of Justice.

If Atta Mills’ Government did issue a White Paper to pass on these recommendation to Parliament, why do we still carry on with the absurdity imposed by the 1992 Constitution which, in Article 78 (1) enjoins the President to pick not less than half of his or her Ministers from Parliament?

By the same token, why do we still have one person holding the positions of Attorney General and Minister for Justice?

What a waste! Some reports claim that we spent some ¢10 million of money we didn’t have to go through what can now be described as a charade – setting up the commission, followed by the nation-wide tour during which Ghanaians, at the peril of their lives, travelled miles, from districts, towns and villages to regional capitals to submit proposals and/or appear before the commission.

My biggest disappointment was that the review left untouched the thorniest issue of all time: the animal called Winner Takes All.

That was a waste.

Well, I have been enjoying the Supreme Court sittings, especially the media briefings by representatives of lawyers for the petitioner and 2nd Respondent. The way they talk, you begin to wonder if it is about the same event which you watched from beginning to the end. My God, the spin those lawyers put on words!

Anyhow, the big question: Do you think Asiedu Nketia, Kpessa Whyte and Jean Mensa convinced the judges?

Columnist: Enimil Ashon