For 8 months there was confusion, uncertainty, fear, tension and anxiety in the West African country, Ghana. But, finally, on Thursday August 29, 2013, the Supreme Court of Ghana announced its verdict on the election case that was brought before it by the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the major opposition party. Following the declaration of results after the December 2012 presidential/parliamentary elections by the Electoral Commission pronouncing the then sitting President, John Dramani Mahama (flag bearer of National Democratic Congress) as winner of the elections, the NPP and other parties in opposition disagreed with the results. To resolve this issue, the NPP presented their petition to court.
The 2012 elections saw the introduction of a biometric system which was surrendered by some doubts about its success. The use of this biometric system indeed encountered some technical difficulties which led to a delay in the voting process that ate into a second day of voting. According to news reports, some eligible voters were disenfranchised as a result of the biometric technical hitches. This and many other dubious-related factors, particularly, the alleged doctoring of election figures gave the opposition the cause to challenge the election results that were announced.
Ghanaians had been following, keenly, results announced from one polling station to the other as they were broadcast on radio and TV during the elections. The media covered election events at polling stations and collation centers while gathering figures to do their own collations. It was a close contest between President John D. Mahama (NDC) and Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo (NPP), making it hard to guess who was likely to win. Tensions were rising. Peace stakeholders including international organizations, non-governmental organizations, political parties, traditional leaders, religious leaders, actors, musicians, youth groups, children were putting in efforts to ensure that before, during and after elections, peace was maintained and disputes did not escalate into violence. Prior to the elections, all political candidates signed a peace declaration under the witness of the “Asantehene” (a revered paramount chief in Ghana), and former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kuffour. This was to ensure that these candidates would be committed to peace by their words and actions and encouraging their supporters to do so.
Ghana is back to its normal “breathing” now. Since 1992, the country has enjoyed stability and has been fostering its democracy. Although West Africa is known to be among regions with a high number of coup d’états and high rate of political instability, Ghana has gradually become a beacon of democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many were watching as electoral events unfolded to see if Ghana would make it again. The stable environment does not mean that the country is immune to political violence. But rather this has been and continues to be the efforts of all who are placing peace above anything else for the wellbeing of everyone. Indeed peace initiatives have contributed to the calm atmosphere in Ghana. Even more, it would not have been possible without the praiseworthy sportsmanship of both the incumbent and the opposition who chose the path of peace (going to court) in resolving the electoral dispute.
The verdict has been pronounced. His Excellency, John D. Mahama, retains his seat. What next? As it would be said in French, “il y a du pain sur la planche”. There still remain many developmental issues to be dealt with.
Long live Ghana!