3 December 2012

Ghana: Court Rules On NDP Presidential Case

The Human Rights High Court in Accra has dismissed an application for judicial review filed by the National Democratic Party (NDP) accusing the Electoral Commission (EC) and its Chairman, Dr. Kwadow Afari Gyan of human rights abuse, when the commission rejected its presidential nomination forms for the up-coming December 7, 2012, General Elections on the basis of not complying with regulations.

The court, presided over by Justice Kofi Essel Mensah, last Friday, November 30, ruled that the EC in no way infringed on the applicant's human rights for rejecting the nomination forms but that it was due to the NDP's own tardiness that ended their Presidential ambitions.

According to the court, the applicant failed to put forward a strong case to obtain a favourable verdict and that its nomination forms could not pass validation following non compliance of the regulations of the EC.

The court further struck out the name of the chairman of the EC, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan from the suit for improper joinder.

Expatiating on its ruling, the court noted that the applicant was required by law to submit its nomination forms on or before specified deadline given by the EC, beyond which it would not be accepted.

The court further rejected the assertion by the applicant that the EC gave only a day for the submission of nomination forms, noted that the commission abided by the mandated two days required under the laws.

It further rejected the claim of the applicant that the EC did not grant it time to correct the errors on their forms, explaining that the commission does not have the right to grant additional time to correct errors and submit out of the specified time because the new Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 75 has taken the discretionary powers from the EC.

The court noted, therefore, that the applicant could not correct the errors on its nomination forms before the closing time, thereby bringing its presidential ambition to a premature end, adding that the NDP failed to provide any law that allows for extension of time to correct anomalies on the nomination forms.

The decision of the court followed an application for 'mandamus' filed by the NDP, asking the court to order the EC to en-list its presidential nominee on the list of candidates for the up-coming general election, in addition to declaring the rejection of their nomination forms by the commission as an infringement of their human rights among other claims.

However, before argument could be made on the case before the court, the NDP withdrew the request for enlistment on the presidential list, an action which the court described as a thoughtful decision and further put that action of the applicant as "beauty to democracy", since the NDP was seeking to bring sanity into the electoral process of the country.

In its response, the Electoral Commission had opposed the claims of the applicant and indicated that it duly notified the applicant through newspapers and radio announcements setting two days as the deadline of submission of nomination forms, which attracts no extension of time forsoever.

According to the EC the forms presented by the NDP did not meet the requirements it set, which knocked the applicant out of the presidential race for the election, adding that it was not required to provide reasons for rejecting the nomination papers.

The EC further noted that the NDP had too many unfilled columns on its nomination forms, nobody endorsed the nomination form, failed to provide polling station numbers and no signature from people from the Upper East and Northern Region, who subscribed to its nomination.

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