The elders say two heads cannot wear a crown at the same time. So, in every competition you will have one who will win, and others will lose. Same fate applies to democratic elections. Abu, a good friend of mine argued at lunch earlier today that the Electoral Commission did a great job in carrying out the December 2020 elections. Arguably, Ghana witnessed a relatively calm atmosphere in the buildup to the December 2020 general elections. I watched him talk passionately about how great the EC performed. Even though I agreed with him to an appreciable degree, I asked him whether he was aware that how post electoral disputes are resolved is perhaps the most significant stage of every electoral process? I saw that his mien changed at this point and he said, “too much sense go kill you.” We all giggled about his gibe and continued to enjoy our lunch.
Ghana’s 2012 landmark Supreme Court ruling which upheld the electoral petition filed against incumbent ex -president John Mahama brought Ghana’s democracy into global spotlight as one of the most important developments in Africa’s experiments with multiparty rule. Clearly, election petition is becoming popular in our democratic space which is universally perceived to be a boon to our fledgling democracy. I’m sure that NPPs petition in 2012 is still fresh in your mind with the famous statement “you and I were not there.” It may be true that election petition signals losers’ willingness to work within the constitutional framework to resolve election-related conflict which is good.
Today, most people have commended Mr. Mahama and the NDC for going to court to challenge the outcome of the election results and ensure their concerns are addressed. Whiles we are tickled with the chorus of “go to court go to court” there may be dire unintended consequences of electoral litigation if Mr. Mahama and NDC are not primarily motivated by a desire to remedy perceived electoral manipulation and procedural irregularities. Moreover, increased litigations can have adverse implications for the democratic process as court rulings could undermine the will of voters.
I am not a legal luminary but a thorough analysis of Mr. Mahama’s petition was clearly not with a sincere attempt to overturn the election results in court. From where I stand and, in my thinking, it is vivid that the only motivation of Mr. Mahama and his allies is simply a strategic move to use the court to build some reputation for themselves in future elections. This I believe he and his team hope to leverage to enhance their future electoral fortune. It could also be that Mr. Mahama and the NDC found it difficult to accept defeat and used the courts to “vent their frustration.” It’s also possible! I am not a judge so don’t say I’m giving a ruling yet. I believe that a rational loser would more likely file a petition when the chances of overturning the results are relatively high. But Mr. Mahama is seeking a re-election instead. Let me not fatigue you with a plethora of analysis at this point.
Admittedly, judicial intervention into the electoral process is a boon for African democracy. Whiles we wait patiently for the court proceedings to unfold in a very peaceful manner lets be asking ourselves the what investors and potential investors are thinking and its effect on the economy. I will talk about the economic effect of election petition in my next piece.
The RICH Ink