Just a few hours after the Judicial Secretary, Mr Justice Alex Poku-Acheampong, had told the Daily Graphic that the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, had designated 17 specialised courts to deal with electoral disputes that might arise before the December 7, 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections, the Electoral Commission (EC) has also said it will hold on with the publication of the notice of polls until all court cases following the disqualification of some presidential aspirants have been cleared.
It, therefore, seems that we are all poised to deal with all electoral disputes which have and may crop up as we inch towards the December 7 elections.
It is all good, as it suggests that we would rather uphold the rule of law than resort to violence and other unorthodox means to have our electoral concerns addressed.
Yet, despite the seeming readiness of the Judiciary to deal expeditiously with electoral matters that have and may crop up before the elections, we are not oblivious of the fact that we have a 49-day deadline to D-day.
In the event that any of the cases, especially those concerning the disqualification of some presidential aspirants, drags on, what is the plan ‘B’ of the EC to ensure that we do not experience a constitutional crisis?
If, due to circumstances beyond the control of the Judiciary and the major stakeholders — the EC and the political parties or the aspirants contesting the EC’s decisions — some of the cases are not dealt with and remain pending, will there be an understanding that the elections can still go on?
That does not look probable, since the substantive issues would have to be dealt with and the courts give their ruling, which would be binding on all the parties, before the elections can proceed.
Of course, we do not doubt the courts’ ability to effectively handle all the cases that may be brought before them.
The Daily Graphic, however, wants to call attention to electoral suits that have dragged on for many months due to one technicality or another. A case in point is the election petition hearing that trudged on for about eight months.
Is there any place for a caretaker government in our Constitution if we are not able to install a government by January 7, 2017?
These are the reasons the Daily Graphic still believes that dialogue among the parties — the EC and the political parties — ought to be encouraged to determine some of the cases.
Apart from calling on the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) to lend a hand in dealing with the issues expeditiously to free the December 7 deadline for the elections, we are also calling on the National Peace Council, the National House of Chiefs and religious leaders to get involved in making the way clearer for the pending elections in December.
We do not stand to lose anything as a country if, in spite of the 17 courts dedicated to electoral disputes, we end up using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to tackle most of the issues.
The court processes are adversarial and if that can be avoided at this stage of our political history, the better.
The time is now to institute measures for dialogue, as the clock is ticking.