14 February 2013

Ghana: I Will Respect Court Verdict

Photo: Akufo-Addo Campaign
A rally of the opposition New Patriotic Party. (file photo)

President John Dramani has, for the first time, made a public comment on the petition brought against him and the Electoral Commission (EC) at the Supreme Court by three leading members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) - Messrs Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, and Mahamudu Bawumiah - alleging irregularities during the 2012 presidential election, which legitimised him as President of Ghana.

Ever since Nana Addo, who was the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, and his colleagues filed the petition at the apex court of the country, President Mahama has resisted calls on him to comment on the issue by the opposition, but, speaking at a meeting with members of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs at the plush Flagstaff House in Accra yesterday, the President broke his silence with a promise to accept whatever verdict the Supreme Court would pronounce on the case.

Nana Akufo-Addo and his colleagues are praying the Supreme Court in the petition to annul results declared in over 11,000 polling stations, due to alleged irregularities, and also declare him president.

According to Nana Addo, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumiah, though the Constitutional Instrument (CI) 75 which regulates the conduct of the election does not allow voting without biometric verification, some of the voters in some of the affected polling stations cast their ballots without going through the mandatory biometric verification.

President Mahama, in his response to the petition through his lawyers, denied the claim of irregularities being made by the petitioners, contending that he won the election on merit. "The petitioners' allegations are brazen attempts to find excuses for losing the 2012 presidential election," he said, adding that the petitioners were "seeking to subvert the Constitution and undermine the sovereign will of the people of Ghana by demanding from the Honourable Court an order annulling the results of the exercise of their fundamental rights under the Constitution." He promised, in his response, to call 4,800 witnesses to testify on his behalf to prove to the whole world that he actually won the election on merit, and not through any irregularities, as his opponents are alleging.

Though the court is just dealing with some preliminary issues concerning the case, supporters of National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party have already clashed at the premises of the Supreme Court, a conduct which prompted the police to tighten security to ensure the maintenance of peace.

The airwaves are also replete with insults emanating from both quarters of the parties to the dispute.

President Mahama, however, appears unhappy with this development. He told the Eastern Regional chiefs, led by the Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, and President of the Eastern Region House of Chiefs, that he would do his best to control his followers, especially from using abusive words against the opposition members.

President Mahama, in the same vein, asked the opposition leaders to also advice their members to stop hurling abusive words at their opponents.

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