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August 06, 2013

Ghana Steps Up Security Ahead of Supreme Court Ruling

by Peter Clottey

Ghana’s Supreme Court plans to hear final oral arguments Wednesday on the dispute over the December 2012 presidential election.

Both the petitioners and the defendants will have 30 minutes each to present their cases before the judges. According to the constitution, the court must issue its decision within 15 days after oral arguments are finished.

Deputy information minister Felix Ofosu-Kwakye says the government has put extra security in place to make sure the country stays peaceful after the Supreme Court hands down its ruling.

“Our government has put in place the necessary measures to ensure that we rein in any troublemakers or any groups of people who may want to engage in acts that breach the peace,” said Ofosu-Kwakye. “The security agencies carried out a drill in which they showed their state of readiness to be able to snuff out any outbreak of violence. The government is prepared and we expect everything to run smoothly in the coming days.”

Some Ghanaians have expressed worry that there could be violent clashes between supporters of rival political parties after the court’s ruling. Ofosu-Kwakye disagreed.

“The government does not anticipate any trouble at all in the wake of the ruling of the Supreme Court,” said Ofosu-Kwakye. “We have held six elections since 1992 and each time the results have been accepted without any difficulty or resort to violence. So we do not expect the situation to be any different.”

Citing alleged vote rigging and other irregularities, the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) petitioned the court challenging the electoral victory of President John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Mr. Mahama winner of the presidential vote with 50.7 percent of the vote, just enough to avoid a run-off with main challenger Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the NPP.

Ofosu-Kwakye underscored the importance of President Mahama’s call to citizens to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court.

“The president has clearly articulated the view of government, in as much as we do not anticipate trouble.”

Foreign observers have often praised Ghana’s democracy in West Africa.  Some analysts say the Supreme Court petition challenging the presidential vote could strengthen the country’s democracy. Ofosu-Kwakye says Ghanaians must uphold the country’s democratic traditions.

“We urge the people of Ghana to maintain this enviable record by not engaging in any acts that could mar our good name in the international community, because if people engage in violence and tear the country apart we all as a people stand to lose because no particular government can function properly in an atmosphere of chaos,” said Ofosu-Kwakye.
Clottey interview with Felix Ofosu-Kwakye, Ghana deputy minister