Court Stops Asutifi South Recount
The re-collation of the ballots cast in the parliamentary election in the Asutifi South Constituency hit another snag last Monday when, moments after it had started, the Brong Ahafo Regional Electoral Officer said she had received instructions from the Head Office of the Electoral Commission (EC) to discontinue the re-collation.
Subsequently, the officer, Nana Eyiaba, halted the re-collation, which was taking place at the conference room of the EC's Sunyani office.
She explained that the instruction came from the Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, following a “motion on notice for interim injunction” served on the EC from the Sunyani High Court which had been filed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary candidate, Mr Yiadom Boakye-Boateng.
The motion stated, “Please take notice that Messrs Asomah-Cheremeh & Co, counsel for and on behalf of the petitioner/applicant herein, will move this honourable court for an order restraining the 1st and 3rd respondents herein from declaring the parliamentary election held in the Asutifi South Constituency on 7th day of December 2008, as upon the grounds set out in the accompanying affidavit. And for such further order(s) as the honourable court may deem fit to make.”
The respondents in the motion are the EC per the Chairman, through the Brong Ahafo Regional Officer, the NDC parliamentary candidate, Alhaji Collins Dauda, and the District Electoral Officer, Asutifi District.
The action triggered a furious reaction from the leadership of the NDC, who expressed disappointment and dissatisfaction at the claim by the EC.
The NDC pointed out that the decision by Nana Eyiaba to stop the re-collation had been intentionally worked out and was a calculated attempt to deprive the party of the Asutifi South parliamentary seat which it claimed had been won by its candidate, Alhaji Dauda, who is the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for the area.
The NDC pointed out that the document was only an application for an injunction, not an ex-parte motion, and that no matter had gone before any judge.
Addressing a hurriedly organised press conference on the EC premises in Sunyani, the General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, stressed that the decision of the EC to stop the re-collation had very serious implications and described the action as “Kangaroo justice”.
He pointed out that if the practice was not checked, a time would come when even if elections were in progress anyone at all could rush to the courts to seek orders to stop the process, or when the counting of ballots was going on someone could apply for an injunction to halt the proceedings.
“We are, therefore, appealing to the international community, right-thinking people and the EC to save the nation from being plunged into confusion through the partiality which Nana Eyiaba has sought to exhibit,” the general secretary pleaded.
According to Mr Asiedu-Nketia, the NDC filed a petition against the outcome of the Ayawaso West Wuogon parliamentary election owing to some irregularities but the EC indicated that no such petition could stop it from declaring the results in the constituency. He also cited a similar petition in Bawku Central which was also not entertained by the EC.
He said the party was claiming the Asutifi South seat to add to the 113 it had in Parliament, pointing out that the EC knew very well that the NDC had won the seat to control the next Parliament by choosing the Speaker and his two deputies, select the various chairmen of the committees in Parliament, as well as control the business of the House.
He insisted that the action of the EC was a clear abuse of incumbency and called on the NPP government to relinquish power because Ghanaians had given the NDC the mandate to rule the country.
Soon after the NDC press conference, the EC also called another one, announcing the suspension of the re-collation of the Asutifi South parliamentary results.
According to Nana Eyiaba, after she had consulted the legal team of the EC and the chairman himself, she was directed to stop the process until all the necessary things had been duly carried out, saying that what she had communicated earlier did not represent her own position but that of the EC as an institution.
At its press conference later about 7.15 p.m., the NPP also insisted that it would only accept the re-collation if the Twabidi No.1 and Twabidi No.2 results were excluded, since they had been tampered with and that the result slips were forged ones.
The Brong Ahafo Regional NPP Chairman, Mr Kwasi Adu-Gyan, who addressed the conference, flanked by other regional executive members, emphasised that once the NPP had detected some irregularities and the falsification of some of the results, “we will not accept them”.
According to him, the party had also detected some irregularities in the Tain Constituency, saying that to cover things up, the EC office at Nsawkaw had been burnt down, with the police carrying out investigations into the matter.
Story by Akwasi Ampratwum-Mensah