Personally, there is one quote that sums up for me the state of affairs throughout the year. It is the introductory line in Charles Dickens�s A Tale of two cities.
He writes: � �It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way��
The year 2013 has been a mixed bag. There were some fortunes and some misfortunes as well. But probably the greatest curve we had to negotiate this year was the conduct of the 2012 election petition.
For months, many were irresistibly glued to their televisions as they waited in anguish for the outcome of the petition. The heart and mind of the nation was at the Supreme Court.
The decision of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to petition the Supreme Court was not something many took seriously. The governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) called their bluff, but it happened.
This step by the opposition turned out to be the single most crucial step that was bound to change the face of the country- whichever way the outcome went.
This is because the petition went to the root of the interest of the political class. The various parties had invested huge sums in their campaign and the losing party was not going to walk away without a fight.
The impact that examples of threatened political interest across the sub-region was not lost on many as well. But thankfully, the victor was modest in his celebration and the losing party was gracious as well in accepting the outcome.
The election petition was not only about the Electoral Commission and its conduct of the elections. The petition, invariably, placed the nation on trial as well- as some of its long cherished values and ills came into sharp focus.
Many watched with disbelief as politicians and party operatives from the two main political parties were hauled before the Supreme Court to answer contempt charges.
The remorse some expressed (even if it was feigned) dealt a heavy blow to the hitherto indomitable image that many of the politicians exuded.
The Judiciary�s role came alive in a unique way. As Justice Atuguba, the President of the panel noted ��You see, this is one of the worrying things in this country.
The way some politicians play the game, they think they can dribble everybody, play political chess with everybody and get away with it.�
At least on this occasion, courtesy the election petition, some of these political figures were stopped in their tracks.
But the election petition also revealed a negative side to our politics- the lack of faith in our institutions and the fear that makes accountability impossible.
n addition to the main elections, the entire duration of the hearing of the petition was flooded with commercials and talk about peace. There were shouts for peace here and there.
This irritating and constant cry for peace by many civil society organisation financed by Star Ghana was one of the lowest point in the election petition. And here is how.
Whilst most of these civil society organisations were institutions good at heart and simply sought to ensure that they contributed their quota towards the consolidation of democracy, it was obvious many of them did not realise how counter-productive their initiatives were.
Their calls were mainly addressed to the political parties and their supporters to adhere to the outcome of the election petition. As their campaign intensified, I kept wondering if this reminder was necessary in the first place.
We might not be the best on the continent in terms of democracy, but to sincerely mount ads and campaigns calling on politicians to make a decision on whether to accept the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling was most unfortunate.
No one ever appeals to individuals to accept the decision of a court. Once they appear before the court, the outcome pronounced by the court was valid and binding. That ends it. If they were not going to hear the voice of the Supreme Court, whose voice were they going to hear?
The reason why these civil societies thought an exception could be created in the case of politicians and the political class is the very reason why our political culture is underdeveloped. Those who actively seek political power in its diverse forms are few. Those who would prefer to cut their teeth in other areas and specialties are in the majority. There is no reason why the interest of the minority should be upheld to the detriment of the majority.
It�s been a great year in some respects.But above all the other things that took place in the course of the year, the conduct of the election petition was the most crucial curve that we had to negotiate as a nation. And I am glad we did.
Source: Samuel Alesu-Dordzi - [email protected]
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