The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) fears the new twist to the issue of Electoral Commission (EC) finding new errors in the nomination forms of presidential aspirants has the potential to create political chaos.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Center says failure to manage the situation where the EC and the 12 disqualified presidential aspirants are in a standoff over correcting errors on their nomination forms won't augur well for Ghana's democracy.
The EC in last October disqualified some presidential candidates for various errors on their nominations forms but an Accra High Court ruling a case brought before it by the Progressive People's Party (PPP) aspirants ordered the Commission to allow him to make the necessary corrections.
This, the Commission contested at the Supreme Court to bring finality to the issue as some other aspirants had sued the EC contesting their disqualification.
Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favour of the aspirants ordering the EC to give them an opportunity to correct their errors.
However, the EC came out to point that the said errors for the various parties have increased from what the aspirants were told in the first instance.
Whereas the PPP though they had only one error to correct, they were told they have 104 others to correct and the People's National Convention (PNC's) errors jumped from four to 303.
But the Center says it is, "dismayed by the news that the EC at this late stage in the electoral process claims it has discovered new errors on the nomination forms of the disqualified presidential aspirants," adding "failure to manage the electoral process wisely puts our democracy at risk."
"The Center respectively calls on the EC to pull back from the brink of electoral and potential constitutional chaos, as well as the collapse of our nascent democratic experiment, and to allow the disqualified aspirants to correct the errors that formed the basis of their earlier disqualification," the statement said.
Read the statement below:
CDD-GHANA STATEMENT ON EC’S COMPLIANCE WITH THE SUPREME COURT RULING ON THE DISQUALIFICATION OF PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANTS
The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has taken note of the forward-looking and unprecedented ruling of the Supreme Court, yesterday, 7th November 2016, ordering the Electoral Commission to allow all disqualified presidential aspirants to correct the errors on their forms and re-submit them to the Commission by close of day on Tuesday 8th November 2016.
The Center is however, dismayed by the news that the EC at this late stage in the electoral process claims it has discovered new errors on the nomination forms of the disqualified presidential aspirants. The EC, as the news indicates, is, therefore, asking the aspirants to correct the new errors, in addition to the earlier ones within the stipulated time period.
The Center finds this new twist to the processing of nomination forms of presidential aspirants deeply troubling, especially because it was the EC that took the matter to the Supreme Court, ostensibly to bring finality to the many suits at the courts challenging its decision to disqualify a number of presidential aspirants.
The Center also note that the EC implored the Supreme Court to invoke its supervisory jurisdiction in order to avert a constitutional crisis, taking into account the time sensitive nature of the 2016 electoral timetable. It is difficult to comprehend the EC’s decision to introduce new issues that have the potential to instigate new legal suits, which the Supreme Court in its lucid ruling and extraordinary consequential orders, had sought to abate – after the Court has heeded to the EC’s pleadings and issued pragmatic orders for management of the process.
In our view, the claim of new errors after the Supreme Court ruling is manifestly unfair and a breach of administrative justice
The EC detailed reasons for disqualifying the thirteen presidential aspirants on 10th October 2016.It was for these reasons that the aspirants went to court and obtained a favourable outcome. Therefore, all presidential aspirants should have a legitimate expectation that they will be asked to correct the mistakes that were publicly identified by the EC as reasons for their disqualification, anything more than that is an improper use of discretionary power.
The Center wishes to remind the EC and all key election stakeholders that democratic governance and credible elections, in particular, are what is at stake for Ghanaians and for Ghana on December 7. Failure to manage the electoral process wisely puts our democracy at risk. Per the electoral calendar, we have already missed the original date of the publication of the Notice of Poll, which will now be published, hopefully, on Thursday, 10th November 2016 in accordance with Supreme Court orders – that is if the parties do not return to court.
We commend the Chief Justice and the Judiciary for the display of great proactivity and acting with a sense of urgency and responsibility. Every effort must, therefore, be made to support their initiative. However, the EC, presidential aspirants, and all stakeholders in Ghana’s democratic governance must understand that it is not healthy or safe for the Supreme Court of the land to be the only institution for preventing a descent into political chaos.
The Center respectively calls on the EC to pull back from the brink of electoral and potential constitutional chaos, as well as the collapse of our nascent democratic experiment, and to allow the disqualified aspirants to correct the errors that formed the basis of their earlier disqualification, as ordered by the Supreme Court.
Quick compliance with the orders will also afford the EC a little more time to carry out critical tasks ahead of this election including, educating voters about the voting procedure as well as some of the new innovations it has introduced to deal with rejected ballots and the transmission of results.
We call on all civil society organizations, professional bodies, faith-based groups, youth groups, the union movement, academia, and indeed on all citizens of Ghana to support the Center’s call to the EC to avoid a potential constitutional crisis.
God bless Ghana!