Monday, 12 December 2016

2016 presidential and parliamentary elections

After the many controversies and uncertainties, the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections came off successfully last Wednesday.

Apart from the Jaman North constituency, where the election could not be held on the 7th due to some hitches, the elections went on largely smoothly in the remaining 274 constituencies nationwide.

Both local and international observer groups have praised Ghana's Electoral Commission, the security services, the media and the good people of Ghana for a good job done.

But, it is all not over yet. The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, who by law is the Returning Officer for the Presidential Election, is yet to declare the final result and pronounce on who the winner is.

It must also be noted that, by constitutional provisions, a person can only be declared an outright winner if he or she garners at least 50 percent plus one of the total valid ballots cast in the election.

In a situation where, none was able to meet the mark, the EC is enjoined to conduct a run-off election for the two candidates with the highest number of votes.

It is not exactly clear whether there is an outright winner or whether the elections will go into a run-off.

What is however clear, is that the so called smaller parties and the independent candidate did very badly in the election.

Results from the polling stations indicated that, they recorded zero votes in most polling stations and in some cases one or two votes.

Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom of the PPP, however managed to get substantial votes in a few areas. As has been the trend, the two biggest parties, the NDC and the NPP have done well.

Ghanaians are however sitting on tentahooks waiting for the Electoral Commissioner to declare the results for the presidential election.

The results of the parliamentary elections are already known since they were declared at the constituency level.

The vacuum created by the EC by not releasing the presidential results from the constituencies has given room for people to speculate.

Both traditional and social media are replete with conflicting figures.

This, to a large extent is contributing to an atmosphere of anxiety and tension.

It is however worrying for political parties to assume the responsibility of the EC and declare their own results.

It is particularly unacceptable that, less than 12 hours after close of polls, the opposition party organised a news conference, declaring themselves winners and calling on the incumbent president to concede defeat.

Never in the history of Ghana, has presidential election results been declared in less than 48 hours.

The law gives the Commission, 72 hours within which to declare the results.

In as much as, we all want to know the outcome of the election, even though most Ghanaians have a clear idea about how the election went, we must not sacrifice accuracy and diligence on the altar of speed.

The 2012 presidential election petition, when this nation was taken through eight months of agonizing and needless litigation, is still fresh in our memory.

Africa is making strides in democratic consolidation. More African countries are tilting towards democracy. 
Recent elections in Nigeria and the Gambia are testament to this fact and the elections in Ghana is a further test of the robustness of democracy in Africa.

It is expected that when the Electoral Commission finally declares the results, the loser, will thank Ghanaians, and congratulate and wish the winner well.

In the same vein, the winner must be gracious and magnanimous in victory and also congratulate the other candidates for giving him a good fight.

And let nobody go to court and drag Ghana through what we went through last time. Ghana needs its next government to be free to focus on our problems.

Democracy requires, not just constitutions, rules and regulations but democrats and patriots. It requires the grace to accept defeat and humility in victory.

Both sides must learn that democracy delivers victories and defeats. At this moment, it will be necessary for the media to play a critical role in lowering tensions and anxiety in the country.

They should do well not to give the platform to anyone to incite violence or chaos.

The news conferences and counter news conferences are unwarranted.

The leaders of the political parties should stop giving false hope to their followers.

The best they can do is to impress upon the masses to remain calm, and accept whatever result the constitutionally mandated body might declare.

May Ghana be the true winner of this election.


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