We want to thank the Ghanaian media for the support they have given to the Let My Vote Count Alliance and its partners in our push to have a new, credible voters’ register for Ghana before the 2016 polls. Your interest has been patriotic, constructive and commendable. Ghana is most grateful to you.
The national and international coverage of matters arising from this increasing pressure for a new register are a testimony to how important a credible register is for Ghana’s democracy. It is clear that a series of obstacles have been consistently created and put in the way of those who seek a clean register. But we seek it for a worthy cause. We seek it for a clean contest in 2016 in order to secure the stability of our democracy as a necessary platform for the progress of our nation and ultimately for the wellbeing of all her people.
Yesterday, a third Circuit Judge, Her Honour Mrs Jennifer Anne Myers Ahmed, granted a third “backdoor” injunction to the Police to stop us from picketing and petitioning the Electoral Commission for a new register. This is a dangerous trend which we intend to challenge at the Supreme Court for proper interpretation in the proper application of the Public Order Act (1994), Act 491, in promoting the constitutional right of the people to free expression. We thought this issue was settled in the landmark case of the New Patriotic Party vs Inspector General of Police in 1993. Article 21(1)(d) of the Constitution protects and promotes the fundamental right of the Ghanaian people to “freedom of assembly, including freedom to take part in processions and demonstrations”. That constitutional provision is not opened to be restricted in order to satisfy the pleasure or whims of the State. If President John Mahama and his party do not want a new, credible register it does not lie in their discretion to use the Police to frustrate those who do not share their view.
Even though we gave the Police 11 clear days, against the minimum of 5 days required by the law, the Judge, ruling on an ex parte motion, restrained us from demonstrating today, September 29. She instead suggested that we “fix another date in October to give Police adequate time to prepare to ensure the safety of the demonstrators and the general public.”
Clearly, the judge, without any attempt to interrogate the basis of the Police claims, bought into it wholly. This is a danger to our democracy. Where judges are quick to comply with the wishes of the State against the rights of citizens such a country is called a Police State. Ghana risks becoming an elective dictatorship. We want to respectfully advise the Chief Justice that the Judiciary is gradually assisting the Police to drag Ghana back into a Police State and she must do all that her powers permit to ensure full compliance of the Bench to the letter and spirit of the basic law of this country, the 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution.
We thought we left the era where Ghanaians needed to receive Police Permit to go on a peaceful protest behind with the PNDC military dictatorship. Yet, the same Judiciary that, in NPP vs IGP, helped to uphold the constitutional right of the citizens of Ghana to demonstrate without any arbitary fetter from the State, is today happily allowing the State to suppress dissent.
Even as Mrs Jennifer Anne Myers Ahmed, without giving us the right to be heard, was happily ordering we the demonstrators to stay off the streets and not send our petition to the EC far away in New York, the United States President was addressing other world leaders, including our own President Mahama, cautioning them against effective oppressive rule.
President Barack Obama said yesterday, “The freedom to peacefully petition those in power without fear of arbitrary law [is] fundamental to human progress.”
He went on to say, “A government that suppresses peaceful dissent is not showing strength; it is showing fear. History shows that regimes who fear their own people will eventually crumble.”
Dare we ask, what is it about the current register that the ruling party is so determined to keep? What is in there that they State will use the Police to remove the eye of Justice Adzakumah to prevent him and other Ghanaians from seeing?
Back in New York yesterday, as if the President of the United States was speaking directly to the President of Ghana, Mr Obama argued that leaders who abuse the constitutional process “to stay in office only acknowledge that they failed to build a successful country for their people – because none of us last forever. It tells us that power is something they cling to for its own sake, rather than for the betterment of those they purport to serve.”
President Obama went on to stress to the UN General Assembly yesterday, “When opposition parties can seek power peacefully through the ballot, a country draws upon new ideas… When civil society thrives, communities can solve problems that governments cannot necessarily solve alone.”
We wish to use this platform to send a clear message to the State that no amount of intimidation, harassment, violence, lies, obstacles, and abuse of the legal process can protect this bloated register. The register is bogus and will not survive. We are absolutely certain about that. The more the State, using its instruments of propaganda and violence, to protect an electoral roll built for the purpose of rigging, the more they expose that fraudulent intention and the more they worsen their case to protect that gargantuan instrument of fraud.
We want to tell His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama and his NDC that they have lost the plot to rig the 2016 elections. Nothing that they can do will stop the current register from being changed for a new one. Whatever they were able to do in 2012 with that bogus register will not happen again.
The good people of Ghana are prepared to fight with all the legitimate weapons available to give the country the unalloyed opportunity to decide next year whether to vote for change or vote for continuity. No longer should the legal votes of those entitled to vote not be made to count. No longer should ghosts and non-nationals, corrupt EC officers and all be allowed to overturn the mandate of Ghanaians. This is a battle worth fighting for and we have no desire to quit today or tomorrow.
We want to reassure the Government that the Let My Vote Count Alliance is here to stay. We are growing in our numbers, and our network is spreading across all the regions and abroad, with branches in Europe and the United States. Our job is not done until we achieve a series of things. One is a level playing field for general elections in Ghana. Next is to ensure that the results of elections reflect the true mandate of the people. The third important mission of this group is to push those who are elected to govern generally according to the wishes of the people in general. It is only then that our votes shall genuinely count.
We will at this juncture hand over to Peter Mac Manu, the Honorary Chairman of the Democratic Union of Africa, Vice Chairman of the International Democratic Union, former National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party and a renowned and active expert in electoral affairs in Africa.
Thank you for your attention.
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