Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, former Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), has proposed the imposition of sanctions on unsuccessful election petitions as a measure to curb what he views as an emerging trend.
Speaking in a public lecture in Accra to commemorate the Constitution Day which fell on January 7, organised by the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) and the One Ghana Movement, he emphasized the need to discourage the frivolous filing of election-related legal challenges, characterizing it as potentially detrimental.
According to Dr. Afari-Gyan, there is a growing concern that some candidates resort to legal avenues not necessarily to seek justice but to appease their backers and followers. This, he believes, could be a tactic to secure another opportunity in the political arena. Such a rush to litigate, in his view, poses a dual threat: tarnishing the reputation of the Electoral Commission (EC) and unduly burdening the judiciary.
He said, “The rush can cause undeserved injury to the reputation of the Electoral Commission (EC) and unnecessary intimidation of the courts”, and cited Nigeria where there were 1,000 petitions before the courts after the 2023 elections.
Delivering his keynote address, Afari-Gyan lamented the prevalent issue of politicians making lofty promises without substantive policy outlines. He questioned the sincerity behind these promises, stating, “our politicians spend a lot of time making and repeating promises to the electorate. One cannot be sure that even the politicians themselves believe that they can fulfil the numerous promises that they make.”
In a particularly scathing rebuke, Afari-Gyan characterized the rampant buying and selling of votes as a “shameful spectacle” that has tarnished recent elections. He underscored the illegality of such practices, emphasizing how they erode the foundational principles of democratic choice and accountability.
“In days gone by, whatever vote buying or selling there was took place in secrecy. It’s not so these days. What we have now looks like an open market where candidates can freely buy votes and citizens can freely sell their votes in broad daylight while we all look on seemingly unconcerned. It is a shameful spectacle because vote buying and vote selling are unlawful.”
He expressed worry over these practices, saying, “Vote buying undermines the idea that we choose our leaders out of our free will, and vote selling undermines the idea that we hold our elected leaders accountable.”