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07.10.2008 Politics

Court decides Blay's fate Thursday

Court decides Blay's fate Thursday

The Accra Fast Track High Court will, on Thursday, October 9, 2008, decide whether or not to sanction the re-election of the Convention People's Party (CPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ellembele, Mr Freddie Blay.

The aggrieved MP, who is also the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, sued the CPP and six of its leading members, including the flag bearer, Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, seeking a declaration that the primary held to elect him as the party's parliamentary aspirant was proper, valid and in compliance with the party's constitution.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Edward A. Asante, fixed the date after counsel for the parties had argued their cases at the court's sitting in Accra yesterday.

He, however, expressed the hope that the parties would be able to resolve their differences before the adjourned date.

Mr Justice Asante's comments were based on an earlier prayer by a leading member of the party, Mr Bright Akwetey, that the parties wanted to resolve the matter out of court.

“If by Thursday you are able to settle, all the better,” the judge stated, adding that it was not good for political parties to engage in in-fighting.

Mr Akwetey had, on September 18, 2008, pleaded with the court to give the party some time to resolve its differences, but from yesterday's proceedings it was apparent that the issues had not been resolved.

The court then enquired from Mr Akwetey why the party had not been able to resolve the matter out of court, to which he said efforts were being made to resolve the matter and expressed the hope that the matter would be resolved before Thursday.

Mr Akwetey said the dispute was not healthy for the party and for that matter efforts were being made to settle it.

Mr Blay and five others, namely, Mr Francis Quayson, Mr Kwasi Kutea, Mr Kwame Appreh, Mr Samuel Akainyah and Mr Kwasi Andoh, are also seeking an order of certiorari to quash the decision of the Central Committee which nullified Mr Blay's election on the grounds that the decision was without jurisdiction, against the CPP's constitution and, therefore, unlawful.

Also joined in the suit alongside Dr Nduom are the CPP Chairman, Mr Ladi Nylander; the Vice-Chairman, Dr Abu Sakara; the General Secretary, Mr Ivor Greenstreet; the Treasurer, Mr Mike Eghan, and Mr Kosi Dedey, the Spokesperson.

Counsel for the defendants, Mr Yao Yegbey, prayed the court to dismiss the application on the grounds that the party did not nullify Mr Blay's re-election.

He said what happened was that an objection was raised to Mr Blay's candidature and explained that the matter could have been resolved.

“If the applicants had taken time to find out what happened, they would have realised that the election had not been nullified,” Mr Yegbey told the court.

According to counsel, Mr Blay did not exhaust the processes set out in the party's constitution for aggrieved party members.

He said it was a contractual agreement for Mr Blay to obey the rules and regulations of the party, adding that the claim by Mr Blay that the party had violated his fundamental human rights was a fallacy.

Responding, counsel for the applicants, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, said the arguments by counsel for the defendants were misleading and unmeritorious, especially when it was clear that the Central Committee of the party had acted in excess of its jurisdiction.

Counsel argued that the committee had the power to either approve or object, but not to nullify the election of a candidate.

He said Mr Blay's argument bordered on an infringement of his fundamental human rights, as enshrined in Article 33 of the 1992 Constitution, adding that the court had the jurisdiction to look into matters that bordered on the fundamental human rights of persons.

Mr Dame prayed the court to declare that the primary held on August 23, 2008 to elect Mr Blay as the CPP's parliamentary candidate had been proper, valid and in compliance with the party's constitution.

He also prayed the court to declare that Mr Blay was the properly elected CPP parliamentary candidate for the Ellembele Constituency, as well as grant an order of mandamus compelling Mr Dedey and the Central Committee of the party to hold Mr Blay as the duly elected CPP parliamentary candidate for Ellembele.

The applicants are also seeking an order prohibiting the respondents or any agent, organ or officer of the respondents from organising any primary for the election of a CPP parliamentary candidate for Ellembele, as well as an interim order directed at the respondents and their agents from engaging in media attacks on Mr Blay or make any disparaging statement in the public against the applicants pending the final determination of the application.

The defendants, in their affidavit in opposition, said the correct position of the party was contained in a press release which expressed the consequence of the Central Committee's decision to object to the election of Mr Blay as the party's parliamentary aspirant for the 2008 election.

According to the affidavit, what that meant was that if Mr Blay failed to regularise his position with the Central Committee, then there would be the need for the Ellembele Constituency to hold fresh elections in order to elect another candidate, thereby rendering the initial primary null and void.

It said all the written invitations sent to Mr Blay only invited him to attend a meeting concerning his presence at a New Patriotic Party (NPP) rally at Ainyinase on April 30, 2008.

“The invitation never stated that any charge had been preferred against Mr Blay, neither did the CPP say that Mr Blay had breached any provisions of the party's constitution,” the affidavit stated.

It said in a letter purporting to request for a statement of his charge, Mr Blay exhibited gross disrespect to and contempt for the CPP, a political party on whose ticket he was asking for endorsement to stand as a parliamentary candidate for the 2008 election.