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13.10.2004 NPP News

High Court restrains EC from registering NPP parliamentary candidate

By GNA

Accra, Oct. 13, GNA - An Accra High Court on Wednesday restrained the Electoral Commission (EC) from registering Mrs Gladys N. Ashietey as the Parliamentary Candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for Ledzokuku in the Greater Region.

The Court's order came as result of a ruling on an interlocutory injunction filed by Mr Samuel Appiah and Mr Francis Nana Gyan, residents of Teshie, restraining the EC from registering Mrs Ashietey as the NPP candidate for Election 2004.

The Court presided over by Mr Justice Kofi Akwaa in its ruling said election as a Parliamentary Candidate was not a personal matter since candidates would have to be voted for by members of the Party. It said the action brought by the plaintiffs was not frivolous and vexatious since the election should be free, fair and devoid of any irregularities.

The defendants in the case are Mr Kwabena Fosuhene of Nungua; the NPP; Mrs Ashietey and EC.

In affidavit in support of the application for interlocutory injunction, the plaintiffs stated that on July 24, this year, the NPP and Ledzokuku Constituency Executive Committee convened a Delegates' Conference at Lascala Cinema to elect a Parliamentary Candidate for the impending elections.

The Plaintiffs said two candidates - Mr Eddie Akita and Mrs Ashietey - contested the primary.

They said 99 votes were cast and during the counting of the ballot papers, it was detected that one of the ballots was unclear and difficult to decipher, as it failed to indicate the specific identity of the candidates in whose favour the said vote was cast.

Mr Frank O. Okraku, the Electoral Officer, was, therefore, unable to declare the winner because each candidate had 49 votes.

The Plaintiffs said although the Electoral Officer failed to declare a winner, a letter dated on July 26, 2004 and addressed to the Constituency Chairman purportedly declared Mrs Ashietey as the winner of the primary with 50 votes against 49 for Mr Akita.

"The rules and regulations governing all public elections the NPP is subject to require that any ballot paper, which has not been so marked by a voter so as to clearly identify the candidate for whom the vote is cast shall be void and not counted.

"But the Electoral Officer counted the unclear and disputed vote in favour of Mrs Ashietey contrary to these rules."

The Plaintiffs further stated that Mr Akita and more than 50 delegates protested the elections by petitioning Mr Fosuhene and the NPP on July 28, this year, "but none of these protest has elicited any response from them".

The Plaintiffs said the action of the Electoral Officer did not only undermine the whole electoral process but infringed the rules and regulations governing elections for parliamentary and constituency executive, national elections as well was 1992 Constitution.

They said the constitutional right to elect a parliamentary candidate of their choice to represent them had been violated and infringed upon by the Electoral Officer and the Constituency Executive as well as the NPP.

"The conduct of the defendants is calculated to deny us our right to be represented in Parliament by a candidate of our choice," the Plaintiffs stated.

Responding, Counsel for the Defendants contended the Plaintiffs' action arguing that apart from it being premature it was unwarranted and devoid of all merit.

The Defendants noted that the Plaintiffs' preferred candidate himself had not challenged the election results in court. "Indeed the member whose proposed candidacy gave rise to this complaint is a complete stranger to these proceedings."

According to the Defendants no formal challenge was registered with the Electoral Officer on the matter.

Counsel stated that the Defendants did not receive any copies of petitions referred to them.

They further contended that elections held on July 24 had neither occasioned any injustice nor breach either the 1992 Constitution or any statutory rules governing elections.

"The plaintiffs insistence on their right to be represented at all costs in Parliament by a candidate of their choice is totally ridiculous and absurd and is not a right that can be granted by the Party or upheld by the Court."

Hearing continues on Thursday.

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