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17.07.2009 Editorial

It`s victory for our democracy

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The passing of two 'landmark' judgements of two significant electoral disputes by the courts yesterday, has once again shown how prepared we are, as a nation, to settle our differences through dialogue and constitutional means, rather than through confrontation.

The Supreme Court, by unanimous decision, ruled that the Akwatia elections should be re-run in only six polling stations. This decision quashed an earlier High Court judgement to conduct fresh elections in the whole Akwatia constituency.

This judgement bloodies the noses of Mr. Baba Jamal of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and two other independent candidates, who filed a writ at the court seeking to restrain the Electoral Commission (EC) from declaring the results and the winner.

In another development, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Mr. Adamu Dramani, was ordered by a Fast Track High Court to vacate his seat, following its decision that the MP had dual nationality at the time he filed to contest the election, which disqualifies him from holding a parliamentary position in Ghana's house of laws.

The court's order followed a suit filed by a cattle farmer.

Much as The Chronicle would not want to go into the merits or demerits of the case, since Mr. Dramani has subsequently filed for an appeal, we are blissful by the fact that a common cattle farmer could get justice against an honourable member of the august House of Parliament. The ruling NDC government and the largest minority party, the NPP, by these judgements arising out of electoral disputes, seem to have split honours. It is a situation of one-one draw, as someone will put it. But, to us, democracy is the winner.

In a speech delivered by the Honourable Lady Chief Justice (CJ), Georgina Theodora Wood, in November last year, at the launch of the manual on election adjudication in Ghana, she said: “The critical role the justice system must resolutely and effectively play, is to address electoral

disputes justly, firmly and effectually with Minimum Delay.” (emphasis ours).

We emphasise on the time-span for the adjudication processes of electoral disputes, especially those involving parliamentary seats, because we have all been witness to instances where some of these cases have run for four years, which is the full lifespan of Parliament, before judgement was delivered.

In an hypothetical situation, for instance, in the case of Hon. Adamu Dramani, if his pursuit of the case through the Appeal and Supreme Courts and review still does not change the verdict in his favour, will justice be done to the people of Bawku Central if it takes some four years to run the full judicial processes?

It is in the light of the above that The Chronicle will urge the CJ to treat the case with all the urgency that it deserves, and effectually deal with the case with minimum delay.

No democracy is perfect, and Ghana's has many flaws. The democratic institutions of state have succeeded in giving hope to Ghanaians, and this is what we must uphold.

We must apply ourselves to building and developing our state institutions, which are the cornerstone for advancing our democracy, which has become an envy of most African countries.

Like President Barack Obama said, Africa does not need strong men, but strong institutions.

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