Ghana: Who can remove President Mahama from office?

By IndepthAfrica
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Jan 4th, 2013
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By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

What we see unfolding from the NPP front is not freakish nor will it abate soon. It won’t because it is the culmination of the party’s grand agenda in response to the unexpected outcome of the elections. It is a grand intricate agenda that might be seen from two angles as either a spur-of-the-moment or impulsive reaction to unexpected reality or a premeditated scheme to unleash the party’s venom on the system.

Response Strategy based on Spur-of-the-moment impulse

At its basic level of being a series of spur-of-the-moment reactions to the electoral disaster, what is unfolding is the obvious choice to register the party’s disappointment, shock, and unwillingness to admit that it lost general elections that it hadn’t expected to lose. But it isn’t adventitious if we recall the NPP’s response to elections that it has lost since the initiation of this 4th Republic.

In fact, the NPP entered the elections on a win-win basis, assured of its own assessment of happenings on the political landscape vis-à-vis the lengthy and persistent years-long nationwide campaigns mounted by all those that mattered in the party. Ever more serious than they had been for the 2008 elections, the campaigns were taken through many twists and turns, buoyed up by strings of sugar-coated promises.

From the basic door-to-door level, Akufo-Addo heightened his public outreach to “Listening to the People,” “Restoring Hope” and many other tours throughout the regions, towns, and villages to seek voter goodwill. In fact, media reports portrayed him as making a headway, even in the NDC’s backyard.

Indeed, the NPP’s strategies helped its campaigners fan out into all these public spaces to undercut their main political opponents in the NDC. While Akufo-Addo took the southern half of the country to concentrate on, his running mate (Mahamudu Bawumia) was in the northern sector, making his presence felt. They even switched axes along the line, which was politically apt. Seeing what was going on—and news reports indicating that the NPP’s campaign messages were sinking—one might be tempted to conclude that the elections would be won hands-down.

Thus, the party’s leaders and followers didn’t lose any opportunity to imprint on their own minds that an Akufo-Addo victory would be a “one-touch” phenomenon. Having so conditioned their minds, they left no room for anything else. That was why Kwadwo Owusu Affriyie, the party’s General Secretary would jump the gun to declare Akufo-Addo as the winner. Come the real moment after election day… and BAM… the balloons of self-confidence and optimism burst into gasps of agonizing wailing and gnashing of teeth, supported by unceasing muscle-flexing!!

The outcome announced by the Electoral Commission proved them wrong. The ground shook under their feet, sending them into an uncontrollable tailspin. It was as if their own “Eshii wurado wurado” slogan had been inverted (turned inward against the sloganeerers) to torment them. How inconceivable, they wailed!!

Spur-of-the-moment reaction? An outright rejection of the results, street protests, vandalism, maiming of political opponents, and threats of more violence, which concretized the “All-die-be-die” combat-readiness.

Premeditated Response Strategy

Here comes in the second strategy—the premeditated scheme to tackle the shock. This scheme is intricate, made up of many forms of protest all rolled into one big conundrum undergirded by recourse to “due process.” First, court action! Recourse to the Supreme Court is a constitutional right, which is why the party has filed a lawsuit to seek what it calls justice for its cause and have Akufo-Addo installed in office as the winner of the Presidential elections.

Analogous to this aspect of following the due process is the boycott option, which is also not strange because it is a potent political tool. The boycott of the ceremony inaugurating the 3-man Advisory Council of the Transitional Team by the NPP Minority in Parliament set the ball rolling to suggest how the NPP would use boycotts to frustrate governance by the NDC administration under President Mahama.

Then, the boycott of the January ceremony inaugurating President Mahama into office for a four-year term would follow. True to prediction, the National Executive Council of the NPP has banned all NPP members from attending the ceremony.

The NPP intends to roll up other measures as part of its grand agenda. We have been told that the party will soon file other suits in respect of the Parliamentary elections.

Again, the party says it is contemplating boycotting bills forwarded by the Mahama administration to Parliament for passage into laws.

We expect more of those measures because they are the real substance with which the NPP seeks to frustrate governance, probably until the determination of its lawsuit by the Supreme Court. But where is the guarantee that they will respect any ruling that the Court will pass? The grand scheme is open-ended and can be added to at any stage that anything crops up to intensify the agitation and prove that the NPP is on its feet.

Here is what I can deduce so far from goings-on. I deduce from what the NPP is unleashing nothing but a strategy to send varying signals to the Supreme Court. It is clear that either the party is taking these measures to prompt the Court to act expeditiously on its case or that it is trying to sensitize the Court on what it is capable of doing to destabilize the system constitutionally if its case is not favourably considered. The underlying message? The Court must act in its favour. This inference can’t be misplaced.

The Supreme Court’s “Headache”

One significant problem that the NPP seems to have created for itself is the failure to act on time to place an injunction on the inauguration of President Mahama. I can stick my neck out to say that once he is inaugurated in office, no amount of witchery or prayers can prevent him from entrenching himself in power.

The Supreme Court can say anything it likes but it won’t change the situation. I am being brazen in saying so because there is no clear indication as to how any ruling by the Supreme Court divesting President Mahama of his powers and replacing him with Akufo-Addo will be implemented.

Thus, assuming that the Court declares Akufo-Addo the winner of the elections and President Mahama and his government refuse to hand over to him, what will the Supreme Court do? Of course, the Court is not an enforcer of its own judgement. It only interprets the laws for others to enforce.

In our case, the Ghana Police Service and some analogous institutions primarily enforce such rulings. So, if the President spits on the Court’s ruling against him, who will force him out of office? The military? A coup d’état in disguise?

You see, at this point, we seem not to be considering this danger and are even not preparing ourselves for it. I am not optimistic, though, that the Supreme Court will create more problems for us instead of solving the one now before it. But in a system where nobody seems to trust the other because everything has been politicized, we must not leave anything to chance.

Of course, one may assume that once we are operating a democracy and are expected to respect principles, whatever the Supreme Court says should be obeyed without question. In reality, however, this particular case will not be so because of the entrenched positions that both interested parties (the NPP and the Mahama-led NDC) have taken. Both have dug in, supported to the hilt by their followers, not to mention those uncommitted voters who went either way and want to put the elections behind them so they can live their lives in some measured peace and tranquility, whatever it may mean to them.

We must be careful how we approach issues so as not to compound problems. Elections are won at the polls, conducted by recognized state institutions, in our case, the Electoral Commission. That is where the power of the thumb resides. Voters have exercised that power and elected their leader but the post-election happenings seem to suggest that some are more inclined toward using the Judiciary to decide the outcome.

The Judiciary is part of democracy but not the decider of election winners. Its duty is to interpret the laws, not to impose any candidate familiar with legal technicalities on the people.

Wherein, then, lies the honour that resides in the thumb? Don’t tell me that votes were stolen or skewed to favour President Mahama because there is no concrete proof. The Electoral Commission and the local/international election monitors didn’t say so. It is only the NPP that says so because the elections went against it. What it is dangling about is the side of the story that enhances its agitations.

As we wait for the case to begin being tried, we will not miss the under-currents and will continue commenting on them as and when necessary. But the Supreme Court must gear itself up to solve problems, not worsen them or create new ones.

I shall return…

 

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