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Electoral Commission dashes the presidential dreams of 12 candidates


On Monday, the Electoral Commission sent shock waves across the political landscape with its decision to disqualify 12 presidential candidates seven weeks removed from the December elections.  Like millions of Ghanaians, I am still scratching my head to understand why the commission elected at this point to take this drastic action.

But the commission did not wait to be asked. Its much assailed and maligned head, Mrs Charlotte Osei advanced reasons for its action, that ranged from misrepresentation on nomination forms, to outright violation of filing rules by the disqualified candidates and their subscribers, for instance, in one case, a subscriber for one party had earlier vouched for another party.

In addition, the commission said it had given the affected political parties enough time to rectify errors identified on the nomination forms, but the parties failed to respond. Left with no choice, and to uphold the electoral laws of the land, the commission went ahead and squashed the presidential dreams of the 12 candidates.

Predictably, reaction to the commission’s arbitrary move was swift and testy.  The disqualified candidates, Nduom, Edward Mahama,  the former first lady Mrs Konadu Rawlings and the irascible Mahama Ayariga poured scorn on the commission and its head. Some threatened legal action, and Ayariga described the action of Ms Osei as stupid and foolish.

I don’t know if Ms Osei’s decision was stupid and foolish as Ayariga will have us believe, but what I know is that she applied the electoral laws of Ghana to the letter. Those are laid down regulations that should be followed and flouting them does the nation a great deal of disservice.

The affected parties should have known right from the beginning that there are electoral laws that should be conformed to, if they are vying for the presidency of Ghana. That they failed to meet the criteria, the requirements put forth by the Electoral Commission and were subsequently disqualified, is entirely their own doing. Blaming Mrs Osei and her agency for their tardiness is running away from the truth.

That said, I believe sincerely that the timing of the Electoral Commission’s decision was unfortunate and ill-advised, and sure enough to cause waves long after the elections are over for these reasons: in the first place, there are millions of Ghanaians who support the disqualified presidential hopefuls.

Sweeping away their preferred candidates clearly amounts to disenfranchising these millions of Ghanaians, in fact, denying them their democratic right to vote for the candidates of their choosing. It wasn’t these supporters who broke electoral rules, it was their boneheaded leaders, so why should they be punished for the missteps of their leaders?

What is more, the EC’s action on Monday, amplifies what some of us have expressed for years, that our political system is a duopoly, that is, it is controlled in large part by the two biggest political parties, the NDC and NPP.

These two behemoths because of their limitless financial resources have controlled the system since the country returned to democratic governance in 1992. And the prospect of them ever losing power to any of the smaller parties who are constrained by the acute lack of wealth to make inroads with Ghanaian voters, remains dim.

Mrs Charlotte Osei and her agency have not endeared themselves to millions of Ghanaians with their move to kill the presidential dreams of 12 candidates. The candidates broke the law, and therefore had to pay the price. However, the decision to sideline them, viewed from many quarters was harsh and should have been tempered with some mercy.





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