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Newsflash

  • MS NEW EC BOSS, NO NEW REGISTER, NO VOTE! -

     

     

    The Let My Vote Count Alliance has taken due notice of the decision by President John Dramani Mahama to appoint Mrs. Charlotte Osei, 42, as Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana. We wish to greet her with this clarion message: NO NEW REGISTER NO VOTE IN 2016!

  • Charlotte Osei appointed new EC boss -

    President John Dramani Mahama has, in accordance with Article 70(2) of the 1992  Constitution, appointed Mrs. Charlotte Osei as Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana.

  • REPORT OF THE ELECTORAL REFORMS COMMITTEE SUBMITTED TO THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA -

    We, members of the Electoral Reforms Committee wish to thank the almighty God for the strength, health and travelling mercies granted us throughout our various meetings, discussions and retreat sessions held outside Accra in executing our mandate as spelt out in our Terms of Reference. We thank the Chairman and Members of the Electoral Commission for giving us the opportunity to serve mother Ghana.

    To Mr Gabriel Pwamang the consultant to the Committee, we say: “...we are grateful to you for your assistance and for bringing your competence, expertise and legal acumen to bear on the work of the Committee.” Read more >>>

  • COMMEMORATION OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF DR. J. B. DANQUAH -

  • Foresight Africa: Implementing a New U.S.-Africa Policy -

    2013 ushered in the most significant change in the United States’ Africa policy since the passing of PEPFAR 10 years ago. The unveiling of investment-focused initiatives—Power Africa and Trade Africa—reflects not just a change in how the Obama administration views the continent, but also how foreign investors have prioritized it. But policy rarely achieves its objectives without equal attention to implementation. A number of implementation barriers—old regulations and new policies working at cross-purposes, and limited on-the-ground capacity—threaten to undermine America’s new approach to the continent in 2014. If 2013 was marked by change in U.S. strategy towards Africa, 2014 will be marked by the recognition that 90 percent of the success of that strategy is implementation.

  • Statistical Proof of Ghana's Bloated Voter Register -

    This is the Age Distribution of Ghana’s 2010 population of 24.391 million.

    This number includes all persons domiciled in Ghana as at 2010 regardless of citizenship.

    Although the elections were held in 2012, the voter register was compiled at a time when these were the population distribution

    Read More

     

  • NPA’s 10% reduction in Petroleum Prices – “Too Little” or “Too Late”? -

    NPA’s Arrogance or Economics?

    On the eve of the New Year, 2015, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) announced a reduction in ex-pump prices of petroleum products by 10% across board. This was not without drama. Most of the headlines that followed the announcement pointed to price reduction under duress. A number of civil society organizations and political parties put pressure on NPA to reduce the prices due to reasons such as the oil price crush and relative stability in the value of the local Ghanaian currency. Some of the organizations threatened public demonstrations against NPA and the Government; a situation that was expected considering that petro-politics is a feature of petroleum pricing in most parts of the world.

  • NDC RIGGING MACHINERY IN MOTION …. as DI raises red flags over suspicious NHIS registration numbers -

    Public policy and governance think tank, the Danquah Institute has expressed grave concern about the Electoral Commission's decision to register all persons in the country who, simply, are in possession of identity cards issued by the National Health Insurance Authority.

    At a press conference organised by DI last week, a fellow of the institute, Mr. Boakye Agyarko, explained that “one of the objects of the National Health Insurance Authority” as captured on the NHIA’s website which states that “persons not resident in the country but who are on a visit to this country” can obtain NHIS cards is deeply worrying.

  • GHANA MUST WAKE UP, SHOUT FOR A NEW REGISTER AND SHAKE UP THE EC -

    FITCH Rating’s latest report on Ghana lays particular emphasis on the importance of Ghana’s democracy and stability to the country’s economic prospects. Whiles it gives a negative outlook based on how the economy is being run, Fitch makes the point that Ghana’s credit rating has not, however, fallen below ‘B’ because of the country’s “strong governance record and recent democratic history,” and that, this is “reflected in Ghana’s ability to attract foreign direct investment, which at 7% of GDP is well above that of Nigeria, Gabon, Zambia, Kenya and Angola.”

  • Danquah Institute Reacts to Bogus Polls On NPP General Secretary Race -

    The attention of the Danquah Institute has been drawn to a story making the rounds on social media and now on www.ghanaweb.com, as well, titled “Danquah Institute predicts 64.7% win for Kwabena Agyepong.”


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The Absence of a Concession and the Powers of the Supreme Court

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As far as I know, no constitution, in the world, recognizes or even acknowledges the importance of the concession by the losing presidential candidate in a presidential election. Nevertheless, this concession has become a ritual that all the advanced democracies acknowledge and recognize as an important element of their electoral activities. It is that singular action that signifies the successful resolution of the election and avoids the involvement of the judicial branch, in what should properly belong to the political space.

Occasionally, however, there is a dispute about the election results and the concession is not forthcoming. In this situation, the optimal solution is to have the courts resolve the dispute prior to inaugurating the President. This is because most countries realize the irreparable harm inherent in inaugurating a President, who may not have been validly elected. Such harm includes, but is not limited to, the cloud that hangs around the Presidency, which might deter international stakeholders from dealing with the President, or dealing with him under significant uncertainty. Domestically, the President’s power to appoint is likely to come into conflict with the legislature’s power to vet as a serious legislature may raise questions about the wisdom in investing vetting resources into appointments that may be short-lived. Local actors may be plunged into a wait-and-see mode and freeze their business plans, in light of the uncertainty about the direction of the country.

It is because of the avoidance of this harm that led the Florida state courts and the USA federal courts to work tirelessly and around the clock to resolve the election dispute between former President George W. Bush and the then Vice-President Albert Gore in 2000. On December 12, 2000, 35 days after the November, 7 2000 elections, the USA Supreme Court ended the election dispute, paving the way for the inauguration of President Bush on January 20, 2001. In the words of the Court, “when contending parties invoke the process of the courts, it becomes our unsought responsibility to resolve the federal and constitutional issues the judicial system has been forced to confront.” In 2004, the disputed Ukraine Presidential election of 21st November was resolved by their Supreme Court on December 3rd (12 days). The hearings, in that dispute, was televised and lasted only 5 days.

Of course, we find ourselves in a peculiar situation of having inaugurated a President, who may not have been validly elected. The Chief Justice was required to swear in the President even as the same law required her Court to decide whether the President, she swore in, was validly elected. It is easy to forget that nothing in our Constitution necessitates this result. It is an electoral-commissioner (EC) created problem, facilitated by a legislature that is too eager to cede legislative power to the EC.

The first President of the 4th Republic was inaugurated on January 7, 1993. Therefore, under the 4 year-term rule, succeeding Presidents must be inaugurated on January 7. That is the

constitutionally determined date, from which we must set an election calendar, taking into account the possibility of a runoff (under the 50%+1 rule), transition, and where necessary judicial intervention. Thus, contrary to the popular belief, there is no constitutional basis or a good reason to hold general elections on December 7, when the inauguration is slated for January 7. It is just a formula for political chaos.

The Constitution vests the power to conduct and supervise elections and referenda in the EC. This power, per se, does not confer on the EC the authority to set election and referenda dates. Rather, what it means is that the people, through their representatives in Parliament will set election and referenda and the EC will put an infrastructure in place to allow for orderly voting on those days. However, under C.I. 15, the EC has arrogated this date-setting power to his office, with the tacit approval of parliament. The EC does this by issuing a writ (see C.I. 15(2) (2)(b)).

The EC power-grab, by itself, might not be so problematic if it were exercised wisely. Alas, as some of us have pointed out in the past, the election dates set by the EC have been unreasonable. C.I. 15 does not set a date certain for elections. Rather it creates a window (not less than 30 days or more than 90 days after the last day appointed for the nomination of candidates). In his wisdom, the current EC has chosen days in the first week in December, exposing that nation to the risk of a rushed transition, the embarrassment of an inauguration while election disputes are unresolved, and the current political impasse, epitomized by NPP MPs who appropriately refuse to vet nominees of a President who may not have been validly elected.

By way of contrast, the 1992 Presidential election was held on November, 3rd 1992, two clear months before inauguration. Parliament must redress this problem with a law that sets the day for general elections. The day must take into account the potential for a runoff, the need for an effective transition as well the possibility of an election dispute. The first Saturday in November seems a logical date (see a proposal from 11 years ago http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=22740).

But what next, now that we have inaugurated a President, who may not have been validly elected? In my opinion, the Supreme Court, the only body, that can pronounce on the validity of the election of the President, must realize the awkwardness of the current situation, confront the issues and resolve the election dispute more expeditiously than is suggested by its current trajectory.

The election petition procedures (C.I. 74) underscore the importance of a timely resolution of such disputes as they stipulate daily sittings, (including Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) once the petition and answer are duly served and the application for further and better particulars have been determined.

Alas, 42 days after the petition was filed and 32 days after the inauguration, the Court seems to be caught in a lot of motions but very little movement. During this period, the Court has decided

that a political party is a necessary party to an election litigation that it could not initiate, thereby creating a litigation landscape where only one political party is joined as a necessary party. At the same time, the Court has also managed to decide that the EC needs not share “pink sheets” with petitioners, where such petitioners (or their agents) were in the election strong room, notwithstanding that one petitioner was neither a presidential candidate nor an agent of a presidential candidate and could not have had access to those pink sheets. And to top it all, the Court has set aside 16 days for the petitioners to amend their petition (2 days) and the respondents to provide amended answers (14 days).

It seems the lack of a clearly specified and smart timeline for pre-hearing motions is standing in the way of a timely resolution of this presidential-election petition. The judiciary’s record on the timely resolution of election disputes provides good reasons to worry about the pace of the current presidential-election petition. Followers of the courts and politics, no doubt, recall the case of Amoo v. Addotey, a parliamentary-election dispute, which took longer than 4 years to resolve, allowing Addotey to serve a full term, even though Amoo was validly elected.

It is for this reason that the Supreme Court must announce and pre-commit itself to a timetable in the current presidential-election petition. There are, at least, three advantages to such a pre- commitment. First, it provides a certain date on which the 2012 Presidential election outcome will be resolved. This, in turn, will reduce political uncertainty for all stakeholders, allowing them to better plan their business and operations. Second, it will discipline the lawyers involved in the litigation, allowing them to focus on the substantive issues and presenting their most important witnesses. Third, it will discipline the Justices, allowing them to focus on the substantive issues before them, freeing them distracting motions that lead to bad law (e.g., who can join an election petition?).

What should such a timetable look like? The Court should provide a hearing period, of no more than 10 days, allocated in some way to the disputants (perhaps 5 days to the petitioners and 5 days to the respondents). At the end of the hearing, the Court should give a decision, in no more than 7 days.

Thus, assuming the Court resumes sitting on 24th February (after the 16 day lull for the amended petition and answers), this case should be decided no later than March 18, 2013. That will be 100 days after the election, 79 days after the initial election petition, and 69 days after the inauguration! While that is certainly too many days to decide an election outcome, the Court would have managed to “mitigate damages” under the circumstances and allow the country to return to the semblance of political normalcy!



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