Don’t Take Reforms For Granted, EC Told

Prof. H. Kwasi Prempeh
A LAW Professor, H. Kwasi Prempeh, has expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court for failing to order the Electoral Commission (EC) to take steps to lead the reformation of the country’s electoral system.

He said the recommendations made by majority of the judges to the EC after the landmark presidential election petition last year, were equivalent to ‘a non-binding advice.’

‘It is simply to say that those recommendations cannot compel the EC to do those things that have been recommended, and with an EC such as we have; you need more than recommendation to get it to act,’ he said.

Prof. Prempeh, who currently serves on the CDD board and teaches corporate, international business and constitutional law courses at Seton Hall University School of Law at Newark, New Jersey in the United States, was delivering a lecture on the first anniversary of the court’s verdict in Accra yesterday.

The forum was put together by policy analysis think tank, IMANI Centre for Policy and Education in collaboration with a pressure group, ‘Occupy Ghana Event,’ to review the entire process of the petition, the verdict and recommendations.

Prof. Prempeh said even though the recommendations are ‘analogous to a non-binding advice,’ it was not open to anybody to shred the advice.

He said the reforms recommended by the court were rather minimalist.

‘They set relatively low bar. We should use it at best only as a starting point for developing an agenda for reform,’ he noted.

He maintained that the judgements of the majority on the bench left Ghanaians more questions than answers thereby creating more uncertainty about the legal standards for conducting a valid presidential election in Ghana or for successfully challenging the validity of a declared result.

‘Such uncertainty as well as the lingering perception following the 2013 petition that the judicial challenge of such a petition has rather poor prospects does not auger well for peaceful and orderly conduct of elections in the future,’ he said adding, ‘Instead of giving us clarity and certainty on the law of elections petitions, what we got from the majority were some recommendations.’

He said that unfortunately, those recommendations were bereft of legal authority saying, ‘When a court needs to compel a party to abide by its decision it proceeds with an order to that party; it does not make recommendations.’

Prof. Prempeh shredded the majority’s decision that had said President John Dramani Mahama was validly elected in December 2012 saying, ‘It is regrettably of dubious value.’

He said that Ghanaians had been taking for granted the relative peace in the country, saying that the last two elections had tested ‘how we can maintain our reputation as peaceful and democratic nation.’

Other speakers included Franklin Cudjoe of IMANI Ghana, who delivered the welcome address; Abraham Amaliba an NDC lawyer, Samson Lardi Ayenini, Egbert Faibille Jnr and CODEO representative.

There was an open forum where participants contributed to the discussion with almost every contributor urging the EC to take advantage of the period to reform the electoral system.

A former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Professional Administration, (GIMPA), Prof. Stephen Addei, said Ghana must abide by signed treaties regarding international electoral processes.

Prof. Addei believed that the results from every polling station should be ‘projected unto a public screen and not only on the

‘I remember in 1969,vthat was done. And that was almost 45 years ago,’ he said.

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