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The End Of The Battle Over Pink Sheets
 
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30-Aug-2013  
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In the end, the petitioners had no case. The story of the pink sheet, “you and I were not there,’ and comedy over date of birth ended at Supreme Court yesterday, with John Dramani Mahama receiving the mandate of the court to continue as the elected President of the Republic of Ghana.

On all the six counts, the petitioners lost. Announcing the verdict, Mr. Justice William Atuguba said the judges voted unanimously 9-0 to dismiss each of the counts on (i) Duplicate Serial Numbers, (ii) Unknown Polling Stations and (iii) Duplicate Polling Stations.

There were split decisions, the other three, (a) Over-voting 5-4, No Biometric Voting 5-4 and Absence of Polling Officer’s Signatures 5-4, all in favour of the respondents. In the words of Mr. Justice Atuguba, President of the nine-member panel, “the petition is therefore dismissed. Mahama is validly elected.”

You could hear a pin drop. Everything in the court room momentarily went dead, before Mr. Tony Lithur, Lead Counsel of the First Respondent, welcomed the verdict on behalf of now confirmed President John Dramani Mahama.

On the streets of Accra and other towns and villages around the country, there was unusual calmness which greeted the announcement. It is difficult to assess whether the stillness in the air signified disbelief. It did not take long for the party faithful gathered at the National Democratic Congress head office at Kokomlemle, a plush suburb of Accra, to erupt in joy.

Party Chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei, who was representing the Nkonya Constituency for the party before contesting to chair the congress, rushed from the Supreme Court to join the party faithful to celebrate. Images of handshakes and hugging were beamed across the country by an enthusiastic television crew from the Jubilee House.

President Mahama, Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Alhaji Rasheed Pelpuo, Minister of Private Sector Development, John Abu Jinapor, Deputy Minister of Energy and until recently President Mahama’s Spokesperson, were captured on camera celebrating the victory.

There was even talk of the 2016 campaign starting from this verdict. Whether or not this judgment opens the 2016 election campaign, would be seen as time goes on. What is important to record is that an official statement issued from Jubilee House, said President Mahama would broadcast to the nation.

At the time of going to press, no one had an idea of what the confirmed President would tell the nation. It was expected that it would continue the peace and reconciliation speech given by the 2012 presidential candidate.

Nana Akufo-Addo rushed to his Nima residence to have an audience with the army of NPP supporters who had massed up waiting for him. After calming down the disappointed members of the Elephant Family, the 2012 presidential candidate and First Petitioner called the media and announced that he had called President Mahama and congratulated him on his victory.

“I have personally called the President to congratulate President Mahama as the Fourth elected President of the Fourth Republic,” he told Ghanaians. The phone call has taken nine months to come after the vote of December 7 and 8. But yesterday’s acknowledgment that there is a sitting President at the Jubilee House reduces tension in society generally.

Like the New Patriotic Party presidential candidate, I take this opportunity to congratulate the President of the Republic of Ghana, as affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Today belongs to Mr. John Dramani Mahama and those who claim to believe in him. They have fought a good fight, and they have a right to raise a few glasses. Last night I toasted myself to my favourite bottle of Stone Lager. It has taken nine months for the President to be finally affirmed as leader of this society.

Having made this observation, I will like to add though, that the Supreme Court verdict does not put an end to the search for electoral reforms. Yes, President Mahama won the vote. It was a free vote, in the sense that no one was prevented from joining the queue nor banned from casting a vote.

At the time of writing this piece, I was not privy to any recommendations from the Supreme Court. I cannot state whether the nine Law Lords had anything to say about how state resources were applied to get one man to lead this nation.

The way and manner the whole exercise was conducted, with state largesse offered as inducement, needs to be visited by a competent body. It is not the very best that before the vote, we were told that the economy was that buoyant, only to learn from the President himself that the state economy was down to the bone level.

The economic misapplication aside, there is a lot the average Ghanaian would like to know from the conduct of the vote. I recall vividly the testimony and demeanour of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission in the dock fumbling about his own date of birth and other simple issues.

There was more about the vote of December 2012 than we have heard from the judges. As a journalist, I would like to believe that the judges have addressed some of the concerns in the full judgment.

Some of us are waiting for the final document. At the moment, I tend to share the sentiments expressed by Nana Akufo-Addo in his post-verdict statement. “While I disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept that what the court said brings finality to the election dispute. We shall not be asking for a review of the verdict, so we can all move on in the interest of the nation.”

There are a number of grey areas in the judgment. But as stated earlier, some of us cannot do justice to the pronouncement from the lips of Mr. Justice Atuguba until the final document is available.

In the words of Nana Akufo-Addo, “I am saddened by the verdict, and I know most of our supporters are.” I would like to believe that many Ghanaians are looking for how and why the judges voted the way they did in the final document.

Nana gave a broad hint about his future in the political arena, with a terse reference to the need to rest. “I am sure that by now many people are wondering what I envisage for my political future. I intend to take sometime out to get some rest, reflect, and announce whatever decision I come to.”
For the benefit of politics in Ghana, Nana does not need to contemplate retirement. The good old fox has done so much for this country and its democratic credentials. He is entitled to have a good rest after this marathon battle of the pink sheets.

For most Ghanaians, the decision not to seek review means that the verdict of the Supreme Court has ended the election dispute. And that means the Government has to turn to the issue of bread and butter, which is the real knotty issue in the governance process.

At long last the battle over pink sheets is over. Some of us will miss the drama though!
 
 
 
Source: Ebo Quansah/The Chronicle
 
 

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