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Ghana’s NDC to challenge election result, Akufo-Addo era judges dominate court

By Ekow Annan
Posted on Wednesday, 30 December 2020 12:37

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, new chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), speaks to journalists after a consultative meeting in Accra
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, new chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), speaks to journalists after a consultative meeting in Accra, Ghana September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Ghana's opposition NDC Party will take its petition to the Supreme Court today Wednesday 30th December. Ghana’s Electoral Commission announced that President Akufo-Addo had polled 51.59% of valid votes cast as against former President John Mahama’s 47.36%.

It is the final day of the 21-day window in which the opposition can legally file a challenge to the results of what it calls a ‘stolen election’.

Even before the complaint is filed, however, the opposition is splitting over tactics, with some NDC heavyweights believing the party should be turning the page rather than getting embroiled in expensive legal fights.

Former UPSA Vice Chancellor, Joshua Alabi and former Trade Minister, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah and Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu are believed to among those interested in stepping up should should the former President John Mahama not contest the party’s 2023 primaries.

READ MORE John Mahama to fight on after rejecting Nana Akufo-Addo victory

The immediate past Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Koku Anyidoho, wants the party to be rebuilt and handed over to a new face. In a series of tweets, Mr. Anyidoho who served as Director of Communications at the Presidency during the Atta-Mills era, said “The rebuilding of the NDC has begun: No negative force shall be able to resist what Rawlings started and what Atta-Mills re-built. Let the negative forces try; they shall be crushed big time.”

CONTROL OF PARLIAMENT

The grumbling remains marginal, and legal contestation remains the order of the day.

The NDC Council of Elders “expressed serious misgivings over the apparent flawed collation process employed by the Electoral Commission” and urged “the party to take all legitimate steps to reverse the subversion of the people’s will in order to obtain a just, free and fair outcome in both of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.”

That is in part because the NDC performed well in the parliamentary vote.

READ MORE A hung parliament could haunt Nana Akufo-Addo

The control of the legislature is now in the hands of an individual, the former Member of Parliament for Fomena in the Ashanti region, Andrew Amoako Asiamah.

A few weeks to the polls, the governing NPP party of which the MP belonged, expelled him after he broke ranks with them and filed to contest as an independent candidate over what he described as unfair treatment meted out to him. Subsequently, the Speaker of Parliament declared his seat vacant.

Asiamah, as fate would have it, won the December 7, parliamentary elections in his constituency.

With the two leading parties having 137 seats apiece in a 275 legislature, the balance of power lies in his hands. And while he has said he will vote with the government, it underlies the difficulty ahead, with the governing party lacking a clear majority.

With both parties mounting legal challenges to the outcome of some of the parliamentary elections, the situation could be dire if the opposition NDC ends up with a majority in Parliament. The NDC is disputing the outcomes of at least 3 seats including Techiman South, Zabzugu and Sefwi Wiawso. The NPP on the other hand, plans to challenge the results of the Banda seat, as well as Savelugu, which the NDC won by slim margins.

Analysts have however tipped the NDC to be successful in its bid to overturn the results of the Techiman South constituency where the military’s alleged involvement disrupted the collation of votes.

The ensuing melee led to the loss of at least three lives, with the NDC insisting that its agents were forced out of the collation centre before the NPP candidate Martin Adjei Mensah Korsah was declared winner. The party insists it won that poll squarely only for the Electoral Commission to call the polls in favour of the NPP.

POLL SCENARIOS

In the presidential election in the constituency, the NPP’s Akufo-Addo polled 48,268 votes, while former President John Dramani Mahama of the NDC obtained 47,974 votes.

The outcome of the legal challenge, could end up with the opposition controlling the House.

The NDC MP’s could end up, nominating and electing a Speaker of Parliament as well as leadership of the various committees of the House. There is potential for frustration of government business, blocking ministerial appointments, censuring ministers, conducting inquiries into departments and agencies.

It could also allow the opposition in certain cases to invalidate international agreements, especially in the natural resources and infrastructure arena, by refusing to give parliamentary assent.

The country’s constitution also stipulates that half of the Ministers of the land should be from the legislature. This means that a large percentage of the governing party’s MPs will almost always be away from parliament on ministerial duties. With the NDC MP’s threatening to subject every single decision-making in Parliament to a vote, the only option will be for the two parties to build consensus around the parliamentary agenda.

For optimists, this means better scrutiny and oversight. Pessimists see gridlock and stasis.

Many Ghanaians are laying the blame at the doorstep of the Electoral Commission which has corrected figures of the 2020 polls at least five times after its declaration and subsequent publishing on its website. That has fed into speculations that there were some underhand dealings before the results were declared in favour of President Akufo-Addo.

“The EC could have saved itself this embarrassment. It should have done proper due diligence before announcing the results,” 23-year-old first time voter, Jo-Ann Danso lamented.

“Why rush to promise you were going to declare results within 24-hours after close of polls?” Maame Forson quizzed.

SUPREME COURT IN SPOTLIGHT

Even before the NDC decides on whether or not to look in the direction of the Supreme Court for redress, there’s a precedent for Ghanaians to mull over.

Following the 2012 election which the NDC’s Atta-Mills won, then-candidate Akufo-Addo proceeded to the apex court of the land in a landmark petition praying the Justices to overturn that result.

After eight months of legal gymnastics, Ghana’s Supreme Court by a 6-3 decision dismissed that petition.

Since Akufo-Addo assumed the reins of power in January, 2017, he has appointed not less than 80 judges to the country’s courts, including the Supreme Court.

Out of the 17 judges at the Supreme Court currently, Akufo-Addo has appointed 11, while former President John Mahama appointed just two.