Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, the Executive Director of research, policy and governance think tank, Danquah Institute, has appealed to Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, who presides on all cases before the Supreme Court, to allow television cameras to broadcast all proceedings of the upcoming law suit by the New Patriotic Party, which intends to prove that a manipulation of the actual election results by the Electoral Commission resulted in a faulty declaration of John Drahmani Mahama as the winner of the 2012 presidential election.
He said, a live televised broadcast of such a historical case for our democracy, with its far-reaching implications for this and future elections, would reduce opportunities for some people to put a self-serving spin on the proceedings and decision of the court, with the intention of inciting undue negative reactions from an already divided nation.
“Full transparency,” the head of the Danquah Institute said, “will help all Ghanaians accept the ultimate decision of the court. We need to televise this case for the benefit of the people and the growth of our democracy. Ghana needs it. Africa needs it.”
He continued, “Every Ghanaian must have the opportunity to see and hear what is happening in the court room in order to help form their own informed view of proceedings. This would reduce opportunities for an aggrieved party to spin the outcome of the case in a way that could negatively heighten tension and incite party supporters to react violently or in similar negative fashion.
“To treat public information on this case like any other court case is to leave it to party propagandists and newspapers to spin proceedings with the risk of spinning our democracy and stability onto dizzy heights and out of shape. I believe the Supreme Court has the opportunity and responsibility to help minimize any such potentially dangerous public reaction to this case by making it truly public,” stated Otchere-Darko.
“Imagine that the NPP is right: that the evidence is staggering and overwhelming; and when finally presented to the court in painstaking detail will prove that a deliberate, systematic, and coordinated manipulation of vote results took place, which violated the sovereign will of the Ghanaian people. This is a process which the entire Ghanaian people need to see with our own eyes. The right to vote is the most important and sacred civil right in a democratic country like Ghana which every Ghanaian has an interest in safeguarding, we all need to have the chance to be able to follow this legal action. Transparency is absolutely crucial here for the sake of the judges, the parties and the nation.
This is perhaps the highest-stakes case our Supreme Court has ever heard and it offers a perfect opportunity for our courts to open their doors to cameras for the first time,” he stressed.
Otchere-Darko went on to argue that there are even precedents involving cases of democratic accountability and transparency of a much lower scale: “Sittings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and various commissions of enquiry are regularly televised. Parliamentary sessions and vetting of Ministers of State and Supreme Court Justices are likewise televised.
“We at the Danquah Institute, therefore, feel that it is fully appropriate for people to witness how our independent legal institutions handle this entire monumental matter from beginning to end where evidence is to be adduced and how the evidence stand up to strict legal and arithmetical tests.”
Otchere-Darko added further, this case is a test “not just of our Ghanaian democratic credentials but also of Africa, as a whole. The world must be allowed access into the court room to take to another important level Ghana's leading role in shaping and defining the integrity of elections in Africa.”
He also cited the famous American election of 2000, in which ballot disputes in the State of Florida were televised. He noted that there is a need to assure people of the same level of transparency that is being asked for to resolve Ghana's political crisis today.
As long as the NPP's case is filed within the 21-day period after the declaration of the results of the presidential election provided for by the 1992 Constitution, there is likely to be one of only three outcomes: that (1) the President John Mahama duly won the 2012 election (2) Akufo-Addo won (3) no candidate received the more than fifty per cent of valid votes cast as required by the Constitution and that there should be a run-off.
Otchere-Darko said, it remains open that the results of the election may be annulled thereby invalidating a presidential inauguration if already held. Although this possibility in itself is already envisaged by the Constitution, “any proceedings that would lead to such a historical turn of events must be fully transparent and comprehensible to the people of Ghana and televising proceedings is the easiest way of achieving that”, according to the DI man.
Source: Danquah Institute