Free and Fair Elections in Ghana are important to every country and Ghana is no exception as we gear up to Election 2020.
Since Ghana returned to democratic elections and processes with the birth of the 1992 republican constitution, 7 successful elections have been held (1992,1996,2000,2004,2008,2012,2016).
Nearly every one of them is tagged to be a Free and Fair Elections in Ghana or not free and fair based on the resulting outcomes, circumstances prevailing at the time and the political party that was declared as the winner.
Elections held since the year 2000 to date have had the results declared by the Electoral Commission of Ghana been challenged very often by the losing political party or a member of parliament contestant.
When the result is challenged, it is based on all manner of irregularities sighted and given as evidence. Such actions are sometimes ill-thought of or a mere attempt to refuse the reality. Such actions attempt to indicate that the results are not a true reflection of the elections. Some of these challenges have had to end up in court.
The latest and biggest landmark case being the election petition filed by the New Patriotic Party after the 2012 elections when the NDC’s John Mahama beat the current president H.E Nana Addo in a fiercely contested election touted as Free and Fair Elections in Ghana by the winning political party.
In all these elections, international observers and their local counterparts such as Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) have had their own reports which paint a picture from their viewpoint.
The conclusions reached by these election observers that the elections have been “free and fair” never go down well with the losing political party.
These divergent observations between election observers and political parties have been the main issue that has led to losing political parties contesting the results declared by the EC.
In 2004, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) challenged the Electoral Commission of Ghana’s results announced. This happened in 2008 again as the NDC accused the EC after a nail-biting contest that sent the elections into a runoff which the NDC won under the leadership of the late President John Evans Atta Mills.
Free and Fair Elections in Ghana and the associated perceptions have been influenced by the personal convictions of party faithfuls.
The NPP also accused the EC when they lost in the run-off to the NDC, the 2012 general election results were also challenged in a 6-month petition at Ghana’s supreme court.
The NPP sought to use the court to overturn the results declared by the Electoral Commission however, the case went in favour of the NDC.
After the almost one million vote gap between the NDC and the NPP, the electoral commission declared the opposition NPP led by then flagbearer Nana Addo winners of the 2016 election. Some elements in the NDC after losing have come out with all manner of conspiracies to prove that the NPP cheated in the elections.
From the above historical perspective and the acceptance and rejection of elections as being Free and Fair, one can say that it depends on whether the party rejecting the results on the losing side or not.
When the NDC was losing the 2016 elections, they come out to inform their supporters that the NDC was in a comfortable lead; the NPP did not openly and gracefully accept defeat in the 2012 election even after the court petition ruling had gone against them.
Accepting defeat gracefully is one of the sure ways to go. Political parties and politicians must not see elections as a must-win at all costs.
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