The on-going election petition at the Supreme Court has not only exposed Ghanaians to the legal process, but has also evoked tensions as to what the court’s decision may engender. While many Ghanaians harbour the fear that the court’s decision may engender instability others think there is no likelihood of instability.
As regards the judgement of the Supreme Court, no matter the impression that one may hold or create, one fact unassailably remains that abidance of court decisions is not a function of choice; rather, court decisions are authoritative judicial pronouncements which, by themselves, compel general respect and acceptation from every person, natural and legal. I need here say that the boastful and incontinent clamour by dissentient political elements in the society to reject unfavourable court decisions and subject national authority to a morass of scorn is a phenomenon motivated by anachronistic and distorted ideas of justice, equity and liberation.
The peace calls
Many attempts are being made by the civil society and the clergy to ‘persuade’ Ghanaians to ‘accept’ the ruling of the Supreme Court whichever way it may go. The truth must not be lost on us that our democracy knows nothing like “the right to accept or reject court decisions”. To plead that people should ‘’accept’ the verdict of the Supreme Court is to seek to achieve a goal unknown in all true democracies. While it is a right inherent in a democracy to criticize or express dislike for court decisions, it is completely foreign to all democracies across the world to suggest that people have the right to either ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ a court decision.
Even though it may not be entirely out of place for the clergy and the civil society to make pleas for people to ‘accept’ the decision of the Supreme Court, the emphasis must be on the simple fact that, Ghana having accepted democracy, all Ghanaians are bound by our democratic commitments to respect decisions of national institutions like the judiciary, and in the event of dissent go through the appropriate procedure.
It is equally worthwhile to admonish “peace mongers” to desist from conduct, pronouncements, gestures, suggestions and speculations whose unworthy goal is only to heighten tension and create fear and panic in Ghana. I wish to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that Ghanaians are one people with a common destiny. All Ghanaians are part of the “We the People of Ghana” from which democratic authority is presumably derived. Being one people therefore, prudence requires that we realize the elements that hold us together as a nation and preserve them. Let us all note that, what holds us together as a people is not because we are located in one geographical enclave, but we are held together by a strand of common purpose and sameness of destiny.
The uniqueness of Ghana’s democratic experiment must convince all of us that Ghana shall not be torn into pieces by civil war. Ghana’s democratic credentials have attracted global applause, and the country has been recognized worldwide as the beacon of democracy in Africa. However, no democracy in the world has developed beyond failure; every democracy is capable of breakdown. The slightest political squabble, if not conscientiously checked and carefully handled, can shatter even the strongest democracies we know of. It therefore behoves us all to unite our efforts to deepen our incipient democracy and sustain it at all levels. Despite our political differences, we have to maintain the fixity of our core national values and purpose.
Our democratic commitment
Ghana’s resolve to practice democracy must be regarded as the most hallowed national accomplishment in our history. An examination of the trajectories of our national history reveals that Ghana has had a gloomy past. Among other horrible national turmoils, we have experienced violent overthrows of governments and decades of political crisis which were characterized by wanton deprivation of human rights, mass killing of innocent citizens in cold blood, humiliation and sorrow from which we may not have fully recovered up to date. In fact, before 1992, destruction of properties and violent expulsion of Ghanaians to unknown destinations marked our national life. One unfortunate thing was that in the midst of such wanton abuses the judiciary was cowed into subservience and silence.
However, the opening of the last decade of the 20th century rang the bell of hope for Ghanaians. Fully aware of its murky past and with a determination to chart the path of a civilized nations Ghana resolved to embrace democracy. An essential aspect of our democracy is the establishment of strong institutions for peaceful resolution of conflicts. Our past must teach us that the flexing of muscles and the use of force to acquire or maintain political power is a bygone phenomenon which matched in step with misplaced political ideas.
It must be recalled that the judicial power of Ghana is vested in the Judiciary and the Supreme Court is constitutionally empowered to administer justice as the final court of the land. The judgment of the court must be respected. Democracy, in the final analysis, is hinged on utmost respect for state institutions empowered to administer justice. Carefully managed dissension is an important aspect of democracy. Democracy does not entail unchecked absolutism of dissident factions and disrespect for the rule of law. No true democracy deserves its name if citizens are free to accept or reject decisions of courts properly constituted. At the heart of all true democracies is the general notion of unqualified national and individual commitment to respect and abide by decisions of the courts. Civility is embodied in the general commitment to honour the judiciary and its decisions. The end of true democracy is respect for rule of law which is anchored on faithful abidance of judicial pronouncements. Beyond this, no worthy democratic virtue can be found.
Within a spate of two decades of democratic governance, Ghana has been counted among the world’s finest democracies. Ghana remains the region’s sure example of political stability and true democracy. Ghana’s democracy has gained firm roots and we cannot, as a nation, afford to destroy the substructure of our democracy and start to rebuild it all again. We have chalked remarkable democratic laurels worthy of preservation.
To this end, let us – all of us – accept the responsibility to deepen our incipient democracy through responsible journalism, careful admonitions, guarded pronouncements, good conscience and prayer, while refraining from any tendency that is likely to trigger civil war and hold our democracy in perpetual abeyance. God bless Ghana.
BY DANIEL KORANG (LL.B)
ENSO NYAME YE CHAMBERS
P.O. BOX 2191