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Ghana Opposition Meets Friday to Chart Way Forward

  • Peter Clottey

Ghana opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo speaks during meeting in Accra to contest presidential election results December 11, 2012

Ghana opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo speaks during meeting in Accra to contest presidential election results December 11, 2012

A leading member of Ghana’s main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) says the National Council of the group plans to meet Friday following the Supreme Court’s ruling that President John Dramani Mahama was “validly elected.”

“The party will be having first the steering committee in the morning, which will translate into a national executive council meeting, and obviously to the highest body of the party, which is the national council, will be meeting [Friday] to give our official response to the case,” said Dominic Nitiwul. “…it was the national council that gave the authority to the petitioners in the first place to go to court.”

In a 5-4 decision, the nine-member Supreme Court upheld Mr. Mahama’s victory in the country’s 2012 presidential election. The opposition petitioned the court to annul the presidential vote, citing alleged voter irregularities.

On Thursday, the NPP said it would not seek a review of the Supreme Court ruling.

“We disagreed strongly, but accept the verdict, and ask the people of Ghana to move this nation forward and unite behind the president …,” said Nitiwul. “We want our supporters to remain calm and united and we will re-organize ourselves for 2016 [general election].”

Nitiwul, who is also the deputy minority leader in parliament, says opposition parliamentarians will begin cooperating with the government when the legislative body returns from recess on October 20.

Legislators from the NPP had refused to deal with the presidency until the Supreme Court ruled on the party’s petition challenging the validity of President Mahama’s electoral victory. Some NPP members boycotted Mr. Mahama’s state of the nation address and the parliamentary review of his cabinet nominees.

But, Nitiwul says members of his team will now work together with the administration to address the challenges facing the country.

“Our refusal to work on certain aspects of our parliamentary duties was conditioned on the case at the Supreme Court,” said Nitiwul. “It’s ended and we will be meeting on Monday as a caucus, but I can tell you that we will obviously start cooperating, as a matter of principle.”

Some critics have accuse the NPP of claiming elections are fraudulent when the party loses and valid when they win. Nitiwul disagreed.

“People may have misunderstood the NPP if they make those allusions and those statements, because the NPP as a party will always go to court or complain when they feel there is a problem,” said Nitiwul.

On the other hand, Nitiwul said “If the NPP loses elections fair and square,” the party “will respect that as democrats.”

Meanwhile, in his first address to the country following the court’s ruling, President Mahama promised to work with other opposition parties to ensure the country’s unity.

"The Supreme Court’s decision is a confirmation that Ghana is a stable democracy and an example of free and fair elections for all African nations,” said Mahama. “Now, it is time to look into the future… I urge all political forces to put aside their differences and to work together so everyone will lead a better life. We all have a duty to the people to work so our country remains united.”