Election petition: Our utterances must be guided

BY: Daily Graphic
The Supreme Court of Ghana
The Supreme Court of Ghana

It is an undeniable fact that global democratisation has brought more countries out of authoritarianism to some kind of democracy, with Ghana being no exception.

Subsequently, there is a growing consensus that significant progress has been made in the country’s democratic consolidation journey after the first peaceful handover of power following the 2000 elections.

The unfortunate occurrences in other countries, such as disagreements over elections, were what Ghana sought to prevent when the results of the presidential election of 2012 were challenged at the Supreme Court.

Election petition is a means of testing the strength and tenacity of Ghana’s Judiciary within the broad framework of its fourth attempt at democracy.

It can be argued that the general comportment that characterised the immediate aftermath of the 2012 election petition offers a strong basis to posit that Ghana had, indeed, opened a new chapter in its journey towards democratic consolidation.

Furthermore, the giant leaps in Ghana’s landmark Supreme Court case and its aftermath have consolidated democracy.

In the final analysis, it is important to remark that the deepening of democracy is not just the once-every-four-year ritual of queueing and voting for one political party or another but rather the conscious effort made to improve all facets of the democratic apparatus.

The Supreme Court has come to the fore as an essential part of the democratic process and its decisions will develop judicial philosophies that will advance the cause of democratic governance.

Currently, the nation is witnessing the adjudication of another presidential election petition to determine whether or not President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is the validly elected President of the Republic.

It is challenging the declaration of President Akufo-Addo as the winner of the 2020 presidential election and is the second presidential election petition in the history of the country, after the first one in 2012.

The petitioner, former President John Dramani Mahama, is essentially asking the Supreme Court to order the Electoral Commission (EC) to organise a second election (run-off) between him (Mahama) and President Akufo-Addo because, in Mahama’s estimation, no candidate won the 2020 presidential election.

Memories from the first election petition are so fresh and guided by the irresponsible statements by some supporters of the protagonists and some members of the political parties. There were repugnant statements that sought to scandalise the Supreme Court, while some were simply unprintable, all in all sad developments which are still fresh on the minds of right-thinking members of society.

Fortunately, the court brought those individuals whose actions were in contempt to appear before it and made to face the music.

The Daily Graphic has always taken the position that democracy is an interacting system.

For instance, civil society needs the support of the rule of law that guarantees people their right of association, while it needs the support of the state apparatus that will effectively impose legal sanctions on those who illegally attempt to deny others that right.

It is worth concluding with the point that democracy will be consolidated if followers are measured in their commentaries on proceedings of the election petition.