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Ghana's Democracy Faces Crucial Test

Lisa Vives | 8/27/2013, 12:50 a.m.
Aug. 27 (GIN) – After months of hearings, Ghana’s Supreme Court justices will put to rest, this week, a challenge ...
Ghanaians waiting to vote Lisa Vives

Aug. 27 (GIN) – After months of hearings, Ghana’s Supreme Court justices will put to rest, this week, a challenge to the election of 2012, creating a possible scenario of bitter if not violent feuding between the two major parties.

Uncertainty as to who will prevail has prompted a flurry of party-led prayer services, peace walks and inter-party conferences to pre-empt any actions that could damage Ghana’s singular reputation as a peaceful democracy enjoying steady growth.

Supporters of Nana Akufo-Addo, standard bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) insist that John Mahama, of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), now president, won the election by fraud. In their December petition to the Supreme Court, the NPP challenged the validity of over a million votes.

Further fanning the flames of resentment, pro-NNP Ghanaians in the UK wrote on their website:

“Why should we sit back while these scoundrels perpetually take us for rough ride? Why should we allow them to continually commit crimes with impunity when we have the means to deal with them?

“These cheats and liars have got away with blue murder – stealing the presidency.”

Supporters who back Mr. Mahama, on the other hand, seem sure of victory. Murtala Mohammed, deputy minister of information, even denied that the nine justices had the power to upset the NDC win.

Ali Dawood, host of Multi TV’s political program, Majority Caucus, also assured his audience: “If anything at all, (the election) is going to be confirmed by the Supreme Court and there is never going to be a time, whether 2013 or the years to come, where we will have over-turning of verdicts in the Supreme Court; it is not going to happen.”

While the case has exposed voting irregularities, said lawyers and political analysts surveyed by Reuters, the verdict will validate the election result. Several predicted a 6-3 split among the judges against Akufo-Addo.

Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, credited the efforts of the 9-member court panel. “The case will set a precedent for Africa because it provides an intensive audit of an election by a court widely perceived as neutral.”

"I do think it's going to take a lot from the court to overturn the electoral result," she said.

Whatever the outcome, Ghanaians can be expected to know it within minutes. Coverage of the decision has been updated frequently by social media on a website (africanelections.org), and on Twitter @africanelection w/pix of Ghanaians waiting to vote