Afari Gyan and Ghana’s election 2012

By Kofi Ayim

More than five million Ghanaians are angry at the Chairman of their country’s Electoral Commission Dr. Afari Gyan, because they are convinced he helped rig the recent Presidential and Parliamentary elections for President John Mahama and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) party.

Even before the general elections were held Dr. Afari Gyan, against pleas and protests from Ghanaians from all walks of life, decided to create 45 more constituencies when it was just a few months to the elections. Afari Gyan did what he did because he was constitutionally empowered to do it, even if it was untimely. His behavior betrayed him as a man who lacked what is generally regarded as traditional wisdom in spite of his academic credentials. It was Afari Gyan, who declared prior to the election that the polls of a constituency would be declared null and void if the final count exceeded the number of registered voters by even one vote. It was also agreed among all political parties that “no verification, no vote.”

The New Patriotic Party in its lawsuit at the Supreme Court contends that this was selectively employed to favor President John Mahama.  Further evidence indicates that the Electoral Commission accepted tally sheets that were tampered with and rejected by party officials present at the polling stations. (see the front page of Amandla Vol. 12 Issue 12 of December 2012).   Most important documents are rendered valueless if they are tampered with and the tally sheets or electoral sheets are no different.

Prior to the elections the government had to give in to the use of  transparent ballot boxes after intensive public outcry (it preferred the old, obscure ballot boxes);  it attempted to justify and maintain the non-photo voter ID instead of the barometric voter ID, but relented under pressure.

If the elections were indeed rigged with the help of the Electoral Commission as alleged not only by the main opposition NPP, but by other minority parties such as Dr. Kwasi Nduom’s  PPP, and Abu Sakara Foster’s CPP and also the PNC whose presidential candidate conceded the results against his party executives’ wishes, then it is the most disingenuous, unpatriotic  and frightening way of throwing dust in the eyes and butting the heads of Ghanaians together. We might have escaped a Rwanda or Kenya, or Ivory Coast this time around, but rigging has the potential of worsening the already frayed ethnocentric sentiments in the country. It is therefore in the right direction that two living former Presidents from different parties have called for a forensic audit of the elections. The position of Ghana’s Electoral Commissioner is a powerful one and any abuse of power or indication of bias and prejudice could easily visit chaos and civil strife on Ghana.

By his behavior Afari Gyan carried himself as untouchable.  Dismissing and directing aggrieved contestants to the courts of law without an open-minded dialogue is a sign of arrogance that has no place in the Electoral Commission and in the laws of Ghana.  On the flip side , we think Dr. Afari Gyan did the NPP a helluva lot of favor because had he been a little patient and asked the NPP to back up its complaint with documentary proof, there was no way the party could have gathered the evidence  NPP was able to acquire in just a few days.

It is becoming crystal clear that “free and fair” elections in Ghana and for that matter Africa, is defined in terms of non-violence only making election rigging fair game so long as no violence ensues. The celebrated status that Ghana has enjoyed so far as a beacon of emerging democracies in Africa would be a myth if the country cannot amicably resolve its internal problems in a court of law. On this score, the NPP must be commended for seeking due process in a court of law

The independence and integrity of Ghana’s Supreme Court will be tested as it comes under the sharp scrutiny of Ghanaians and the world. The honorable justices of Ghana would have to rise to the responsibilities bestowed on them by the nation’s constitution. Meanwhile, the man, formerly a teacher at the University of Ghana, Legon, would indubitably go down in history as he who strengthened the nascent democracy of Ghana or destroyed the genuine efforts of a people to live under democracy depending on the side of the political divide one stands.

Posted by on Jan 15 2013. Filed under Features, Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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