Election Petition: Early polls will help speedy hearing – Lawyer

General News of Monday, 1 April 2013

Source: radioxyzonline.com

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A private Lawyer, Mr Yaw Oppong says if Ghana’s election calendar is pushed back by three months, election disputes such as the current election fraud petition before the Supreme Court can be disposed of swiftly as in the case of Kenya, before the President-elect is sworn in.

Mr Oppong said Ghana has placed unnecessary pressure on itself by not making use of the constitutional provision that makes room for General elections to be held earlier than December of every election year.

He told XYZ Breakfast Show on Monday April 1, 2013 that Article 63 (2) of the 1992 Constitution accommodates his proposal.

That Article provides that: “The election of the President shall be on the terms of universal adult suffrage and shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be conducted in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed by constitutional instrument by the Electoral Commission and shall be held so as to begin -(a) where a President is in office, not earlier than four months nor later than one month before his term of office expires”.

Ghana has, for the most part of the fourth Republic, opted for the one month deadline before the end of a President’s term to conduct Presidential and Parliamentary elections which are mostly held on December 7.

However Mr Yaw Oppong said: “…If for example we had held our elections on [the] 8th of September, then there’s no reason why we would have had problems with the Court…sitting to hear [the] petition against the validity of a President within four months…I think that is where our problem is”.

According to him, the election fraud petition filed at the Supreme Court by the 2012 Presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, alongside his Running Mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and the Party’s National Chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, could have been dealt with by the Supreme Court before the new President was sworn in if the elections were held earlier.

Kenya’s Supreme Court has within two weeks disposed of a similar writ filed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga who challenged the Presidential results of his Country’s March 4 election.

The Court upheld the election of Uhuru Kenyatta, his arch rival; as free, fair and transparent.

The swift manner in which the Supreme Court in Kenya dealt with the petition sparked a wave of debate in Ghana over whether the Kenyan model could not be replicated by the Supreme Court in Accra.

Unlike Kenya however, Ghana put no deadline on the case.