Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On The Crises In La Cote d' Ivoire ( 2 )

Without further delay I call on the various factions in the Ivorian electoral dispute to come together and put in place measures towards the organization of fresh elections.They need to go over the entire process. Anything apart short of that would not bring the peace we want to prevail in La Cote d’Ivoire. Before this is done trust-worthy people who have been proven not to have any interest in the outcome of election in that country must be brought in to handle the election. The Western media must also desist from inflaming passions. Much of what they reported was based on their imaginations and not a true reflection of what was taking place in that country. There must certainly be a re-run of the elections.”

From all that I have read and heard on the airwaves, I am convinced that the source of the problem to the crises in La Cote d’Ivoire had its roots in the constitution of that country. Why was it possible for the electoral commission to pronounce provisional results and declare Alhassan Ouattara winner of the 28 December election when in fact the constitutional council, per its mandate boldly stipulated in the constitution, had declared Gbagbo the winner of the elections enabling the Chief Justice to swear Laurent Gbagbo as President. There was a conflict and one state institution did not do its work well. Gbagbo is President, but in order to prevent future occurrence of such disputes, a comprehensive reform must be carried out on the Ivorian Constitution.”

Laurent Gbagbo must honestly step down and hand over power to Alhassan Ouattara. He is setting a bad precedence in the politics of Africa. Why do some leaders think they are the only ones born with the wisdom to govern? President Gbagbo sought the mandate of the people to rule that country, but unfortunately he was rejected at the polls and a new President was elected. He must resign so that the will of the people would manifest. If there should be an escalation of violence in that country, it would be the nursing mothers, school children and the poor peasant farmers who would suffer. Ouattara and his people must also ensure that if power is finally handed over to them, they would do things to alleviate the sufferings of the people in La Cote d’Ivoire and give adequate recognition to the achievements of President Gbagbo during his tenure of office.”

The Western media gravely mis-led the world on the situation in Ivory Coast. As of now I am finding it extremely difficult to understand why they are not interested in the myriads of complaints of rigging in strongholds of the opposition candidate, Alhassan Ouattara. Why were they so interested in one side of the story and not the grueling details of the other? Were they seeking to impose their stooge on the people of La Cote d’I voire? I hope they do not succeed this time around. Secondly, I believe the nature of the Ivorian constitution makes it prone to conflicts which can be avoided. I call on the parliamentarians of that country to study the constitution of other countries in the sub-region like Ghana, so they can improve on their constitution.”

The only solution to the political upheaval in La Cote d’I voire is for Gbagbo to concede deafeat and hand-over the reins of office to the opposition. Africans must not yield to the idea of power sharing because we shall come to the point where the will of the masses would no longer be a determinant factor in the political affairs of the country. Sovereignty resides with the people and that must be respected at any given moment. President Laurent Gbagbo has ruled La Cote d’Ivoire for ten solid years and the people have said no this time around. I also want to call on the international community to stop meddling in the affairs of that country, so they can build trust amongst themselves for national advancement.

Democracy calls for competition of parties in an attempt to win the mandate of the people so they can implement their view of how to manage the affairs of the state toward nation building. It is in this context that political parties are formed to serve as a vehicle towards the actualization of these noble objectives; however it is the inappropriate conduct of some politicians which gives politics a bad name. I call on his Excellency President Gbagbo to concede defeat and acknowledge the right of the Ivorian people to determine their own destiny. If he believes he has put in place the proper structures which can ensure free and fair elections in future, then he should summon courage and organize his party so they can win power in the next elections.”                                                                                                          

The majority of people who support the constitutional council of La Cote d’I voire in declaring President Gbagbo the winner do so because of the presumed inability of the electoral commission of that country to declare the elections within the stipulated time frame of three days. These people forget that it was the agents of Gbagbo who attacked the electoral officer and tore into pieces the election results. Why did they do that? Who is to blame? Given the state of disarray in which the electoral commission found itself, the constitutional council then hijacked the process and based on their own judgement declared Gbagbo the winner. I think this is just unfair! It is obvious that if that attack had not taken place the electoral commission would have declared Ouattarra the winner of the elections.”

The publication of electoral results of the Ivory Coast elections that I saw in the newspapers draws one to the conclusion that there was some inaccuracy in the collation of the result in some areas most of which went against Gbagbo. However the dominant view is that Ouattara has won the elections. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU),European Union (EU) and the super powers are firmly behind Ouattara. If there is any grievances from the camp of Gbagbo, they must still muster courage and allow the democratic process to go through and seek redress later and ensure that they offer suggestions to improve upon the operations of the institutions of state responsible for the holding of elections.” 

Monday, December 13, 2010

On The Crises In La Cote d' Ivoire

We as Africans need to take decisive action on issues of electoral disputes and malpractices because they are becoming just too many. As of now it is only the President of Botswana who has spoken out concerning the electoral dispute in Cote de I’voire. Why is it that the rest of the African leaders have not been able to speak out boldly on this issue? They have all done it before. They have all in one way or the other denied winning candidates from taking over. Blaise Campaore came to power in 1986 and has done everything to entrench himself in office so how can anybody rely on this man to talk about democracy or contribute towards finding solutions to the problem in La Cote de I’voire? The whole world is witness to how the current President of Nigeria, Jonathan Goodluck and his late boss Umaru Musa Yar’adua were smuggled into office, yet these are the men who want to tell us whether one has won elections fairly or not.”
Time must not be wasted in finding solutions to the electoral dispute in La Cote de I’voire, else there might be an escalation of the tension in the country and violence might follow. Both parties must come together and find an amicable solution to the problem without any interference by the international community. Gbagbo and Alhassan might all have very good reasons for believing they have won the elections but in the interest of the Ivorian people, I ask that they iron out their differences and ensure that peace prevails. I also call for a review of the constitution of Cote de I’voire especially the part which talks about the structure and mandate of the electoral commission. The constitutional council must not be the one to declare elections and determine who has won. I say this because of announcements by the BBC and the other mediums that Gbagbo had changed the membership of the council a few weeks before the elections and the obvious implication is that they are likely to do things to favour the sitting President which would go against the tenets of freedom of choice.
I am in full support of the action taken by the Constitutional Committee in declaring President Gbagbo the winner of the elections. Why is everyone, especially the international community trying to rubbish and put aside constitutional provisions which stipulates how elections must be run in that country? The action of the electoral commission of Cote de I’voire amounted to treason and we must see it as such. If for whatever reason they couldn’t declare the provisional results of the elections within three days what prevented them from going to the court to ask for an extension of the time so they could do a proper tabulation of the electoral results? What prompted them to contradict the constitution by declaring half baked results after the process had been taken over by the Constitutional Committee? The choice of the people must be made to prevail. If Gbagbo won, then Gbagbo must govern.”
I initially had some difficulty in understanding what was taking place in La Cote de I’voire with respect to the constitution. It states that the electoral commission would conduct election and declare provisional results three days after the elections has been held. The constitutional commission then would then decide on the candidate who has won the election whilst the Chief Justice does the swearing in of the elected President. In Ghana the electoral commission organizes the elections and declares the winner whilst the Chief Justice swears in the elected President. There is no constitutional Committee and even the courts only come in when there is an electoral dispute. I am of the view that the international community must now step in and help with the settlement of the dispute that has arisen after the elections. I wouldn’t recommend ECOWAS because their intervention in electoral disputes have only aggravated the problem. They all have particular candidates they support in disputes so there is always some mistrust in the camp of the other party in the dispute. What were they able to do in Liberia and Sierra-Leone?

I must say many of us have not followed closely the issues surrounding the elections of La Cote de I’voire and we risk taking uninformed positions on this matter. It was after listening to the submissions of Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper on Alhaji and Alhaji this Saturday that I had a clearer understanding of what exactly took place in La Cote de’I voire. Before then I did not know about the blatant rigging of election in the North of that country and all one could hear on BBC and on the other media outlets was that Laurent Gbagbo had lost elections and was refusing to concede defeat to Ouattara. How can one accept an election where in some instance more than a hundred thousand votes have been added to the votes of the opposition candidate Alhassan Ouattara? How many of the people asking Gbagbo to concede defeat would have done so if they had found their long foot in his shoes?  Why is the so called international community not interested in the evidence of electoral malpractices in strong holds of the opposition candidate, Alhassan Ouattara? Perhaps they have not woken up to the fact that they can no longer impose their stooges as leaders on us any longer.”

I do not know the modus operandi of the electoral commission of La Cote de I’voire but what I can say is that so long as the commission could not declare the provisional results within the three days as stipulated by the constitution, I would not blame the Constitutional committee for coming out to declare Gbagbo the winner of the election that was held recently in that country. Alhassan Ouattara prior to the elections had recognized the structure put in place to organize the election, so if after all said and done, they have come out to declare Gbagbo the winner, why is he refusing to accept the decision of the Constitutional Committee? I wish to also say that measures must be put in place to reform certain aspects of the Ivorian constitution which might lead to unnecessary conflicts. The situation where you have three different state institutions determining the outcome of elections is not healthy and that part of the constitution must be amended”
In so far as the international community is backing Ouattara, I ask Gbagbo to step down. Calling for power sharing is not healthy. It is not likely to get the co-operation of the other camp. The notion of power sharing which is gaining currency in the politics of Africa must be discouraged before it becomes a norm. A lot happened during the election and Gbagbo might have a good reason for believing the elections were rigged in favour of Ouattara. This is why I believe Ouattara must stop sending signals of retaliation when he is properly sworn in as President. This attitude can cause fear in the administration of Gbagbo which might further strengthen them in refusing to hand-over.”
I was supporting Ouattara when the electoral dispute broke but I had no option than to change my stance after having tuned in to radio Gold’s Alhaji and Alhaji Saturday programme. Gbagbo did not declare himself or swear himself into power but it was the constitution which gave him that mandate and we must accept that as a fact. The impression has been created that the Constitutional Committee hijacked but that is not what happened. It was the inability of the Electoral Commission to pronounce provisional results which paved the way for the Constitutional Commission to do what they had to do under the given circumstances. The Electoral Commission must be blamed for what is happening in La Cote de I’voire. Let me also say that there is the need for a certain streamlining of the actual institution responsible for the declaration of elections.” 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

About The Judiciary, Fairness and All

"I think the tendency of a judge to pronounce one innocent even when he or she might be guilty is natural and often happens psychologically. The circumstances of a person at the time a crime is committed can also determine the outcome of the trial against that person. As a judge if a pregnant woman is brought before me for having committed murder, i do not think i would send her to the gallows. In the first place she is caring a child who did not take part in the crime. In this case the appropriate thing to do would be for me to give her a minimal sentence of say 6 months especially if it is a crime of passion. We are humans and our feelings and emotions are very much likely to influence our decision making."
                                                                              Selestina Asumah (University of Ghana)

"These days you can easily grease the palm of the judges of our courts in order to get judgement in your favour.It has happened on many occasions and this has led innocent people to gaol. One other problem is that the judiciary is a human institution and are likely to make mistakes in the delivery of justice.We can only hope that the situation gets better."
                                                                               Justice Afari (University of Ghana)

"In many instances over the past years the ruling of the courts have not met the expectation of many Ghanaians. Of course these days a lawyer is no longer able to predict the outcome of a case in court even when you are convinced that you have a good case. The integrity and sanctity of our courts is diminishing by the hour and i believe someone must step in and avert a crises in the not too distant future.Crime is on the increase in Ghana today because no one fears the courts any longer.Evil now triumphs over good."
                                                                              Emma Agbedjeku (University of Ghana )

" Judges of our judiciary are humans and i do believe they can't be absolved from the numerous cases of bribery and corruption that has afflicted our courts. However, i am of the strong conviction that the influence of judges by unscrupulous individuals in society can be curbed. We need to give our judges the incentives needed like housing and others. It is a problem, people are not being given justice. The delivery of justice today has become the preserve of a few in the society who take undue advantage of their positions."
                                                                                   Evelyn Kangah (University of Ghana)

"The judges are professionals doing their work in the system and they certainly know the law and that is how they apply them.They are humans and are likely to be influenced.Not many have received justice from our courts. but it is these same people who have taken care our nation for all these years. Let us pray that things get better, but for now they are all we have."
                                                                               Theodore Agbezorlie (University of Ghana)

" We must blame and start posing questions of the system that allow some of these judges to find their way to Supreme Court. If you have the situation where it is the President who by the constitution has to appoint a judge to the courts then there is the likelihood of these judges being influenced. There was a time in this country when the Former President re-constituted the courts in order to change the initial verdict of that court.It is the people who must appoint the judge and not the President. Former President Kufuor packed the courts with judges and President Mills can also do likewise.There must be a fixed number of judges that can be appointed to the Supreme Courts."
                                                                        Orlapu Anasenchor (University of Ghana)

"Times like these demands men and women who are willing to uphold the rule of law and ensure that justice is delivered without fear or favour. Judges are human and are likely to go contrary to the procedure of dispensing justice to the suffering masses of the people.I am aware of the ensuing debate in the public about the judges and the ruling they make.Recently the commonwealth Hall of the University of Ghana won a case against the administration of the school and one would have expected the otherwise.By extension you can say that the administration or the school itself is a periphery of the Ministry of Education, but the students won.There is obvious some rot at the Courts but we can do something about it."
                                                                                  Araba Amanfu (University of Ghana)

" My personal view is that most judges show solidarity with the ruling government and are more likely to make pronouncements in their favour. It is no secret that the judges of our courts have in most instances delivered ruling in sharp contrast with the dictates of our constitution.For instance majority of Ghanaians are of the view firm believe that the Tsatsu Tsikata(Former Director of the Ghana National Petroleum Co-orporation) trial which took more than 6 years was teleguided. In the course of the trial he was even asked to defend himself in clear breach of judicial proceedings. I hope we have not forgotten how ex-President Kufuor packed the courts with the judges who made a mess of our judiciary. It is very much obvious the Attorney-General is losing her cases in court because of the undeniable fact that most of our courts bear allegiance to the previous regime. Why, we know some of these judges and where they stand on some of these issues.Who can deny the fact that some judges even write their rulings before the trial processes are exhausted."
                                                                                Karima Osman (University of Ghana)

" I would want to refrain from commenting on the issue of the judges and our courts because i am a Jehovah Witness. We do not send people to court but others do that to us. We are all imperfect. Until the Kingdom of God comes back to this earth and earthly kingdoms are done away with, as in Daniel 2:44, there would be bloodshed, murder and all sorts of injustices all of which are an indication that the kingdom of God is near."
                                                                                  Barfi Tony (University of Ghana)


About The Courts,Judges and Fairness

"I have always held this belief that judges in this country are are not fair. They see white and mention blue. How can one be a judge and hold allegiance to a political party. I strongly recommend a clean up exercise of the courts and it must take place now. There is a lot of rot . Any lawyer you speak to even the most corrupt of them all,would give you a hint of what is happening at the courts. All you need to do is to find yourself in the "Good Books" of a judge and that is all. However this state of affairs cannot remain forever. There are two options,either the Chief Justice takes a closer look at herself and weed out the bad ones or the people themselves begin to strategize and draw plans for her removal."
                                                                                            Bright Ayivor ,Accra Polytechnic

"Judges must know the positions they occupy are very sensitive.The courts are also forming a part of the social  fibre. No two people are equal and for that matter,conflicts are likely to occur as we go about our everyday activities. Now if judges decide to steal a verdict for one party who might be guilty of a charge then then is a problem, because very soon we would not recognize them as the people who must mediate in our affairs. People are suffering because of injustice all over the world. Many have been thrown into gaols for crimes they did not commit.Why this unfairness? Come what may the people shall arise one day and the deliberate attempt at keeping them in bondage will be crushed!"
                                                                                     Daniel Assifu (Accra Polytechnic)

"It is rather unfortunate we don't seem to realize what is happening with our judges. Now this is it, the judges are being threatened and blackmailed because of the crimes they committed in connivance with officials of the previous administration.The extent to which these people went and looted our resources is unimaginable and never has this happened in the history of our dear country.Why,even the Chief Justice got some of the state land which was looted so how can expect her to bring sanity into the system. If this administration of President Mills is going to survive given the way things are going,they must hold the judges by their necks and insist on the right things being done rather than listen to the loud mouths calling for independence of the judiciary.Independence for what! The people are collaborating you and you say independence?"
                                                                                              Frederick Adipah (Accra Polytechnic)

I have always been a staunch advocate of the independence of the judiciary, however if one takes a careful look at how the Mpiani and Wereko Brobbey trials went concerning Ghana @50 to celebrate Ghana's independence celebrations,with a clean pair of glasses,you can only come to the conclusion that our courts are under siege. For me the solution to the problem would be to go back to the chieftaincy system.That system did us a lot of good when when it came to settling disputes and delivering justice.Chieftaincy might not be relevant today because of our republican status,but there were some practices of that system we must not throw away."
                                                                                                       Godwin Addae (Accra polytechnic)

"It is common knowledge that every human institution cannot be expected to be perfect.However there are a few things we can do in order to bring sanity into the judiciary.The political interference must stop with immediate effect.All the things we were taught about separation of powers do not make meaning any longer.I accept there must be some sort of collaboration amongst the various arms of government but the interference is becoming juust too much.A system must be put in place such that parties in a case would not be able to determine which judge would be sitting on their cases, although i do not know whether that will also work."
                                                                                                       Ernest Asare (Accra Polytechnic)

"I guess the issue of the unfairness of the judiciary is coming up now because there has been a change in government. Every government would want a judiciary it can manipulate and i believe the previous administrations also wanted it that way. However, if this government is losing its cases before these judges because they are upholding the rule of law,then fair enough. But if they are putting up this behaviour because of their assumed allegiance to the previous regime,then they better think again because that would not be accepted."
                                                                                              Timothy Eshun (Accra Polytechnic)