April 22, 2024


Public intellectual Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare (Kwaku Azar) has argued that resolving electoral disputes through the court system should not be demonized. Rather, he suggested, the courts must have some fundamental principles to guide them in expeditiously resolving electoral disputes in the country.

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, a distinguished former Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC), had stated in a lecture that political candidates and parties that resort to the courts after losing elections merely to please their financiers or supporters must be sanctioned for wasting the time of the courts and unduly calling the reputation of the EC into question.

But for Kwaku Azar, going to court to seek redress with respect to elections must not be discouraged, suggesting that the courts adopt fundamental guiding principles to administer justice in that regard.

“Going to court to resolve election disputes should not be given a bad name. The courts should have some fundamental principles to guide the resolution of these disputes:

1. All presidential elections must be resolved in 21 days. Further, the election date must be moved back to November to allow for a reasonable transition period when there is an election dispute (or runoff).

2. Parliamentary election and appeals must be resolved within 60 days.

3. A distinction must be made between qualification and voting issues. The former must be settled before voting. The latter must be settled in line with 1 and 2.

4. Once a prima facie case is established the EC must submit all election relevant materials to the court,” he noted in a social post.

“The Court,” he continued, “shall then designate the election manager as a witness for the Court who shall give testimony and be examined by all parties.

6. Accordingly, phrases like “a petitioner cannot depend on the election manager to make his case” should be consigned to the judicial dustbin. The election manager has an affirmative responsibility to help the court determine the merits of the petition.

7. The Supreme Court should enforce election rules, not make them. If the rules on eligibility and qualifications are different, the court should not make them the same.

8. A SALL[ disenfranchising voters due to improper demarcation of Constituencies] should not happen. But if it does, it requires a speedy extraordinary remedy and, of course, accountability.”

He concluded that the country needs a fair, impartial, and timely election dispute resolution system.

 As GOGO suggested decades ago, we need a Fair, Impartial, & Timely (FIT) election dispute resolution system (infra),” he added.

In 2012, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) filed the first presidential election petition before the Supreme Court of Ghana after Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo lost the presidential election against then-incumbent President John Mahama. Then in 2020, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) also filed one after John Mahama lost.

Concerning parliamentary elections, several candidates have sought justice after losing the elections in Court.



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