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Ghana Court Ruling Strengthens Democracy


Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama attends the 43rd ECOWAS meeting in Abuja. (file)
Ghana’s Supreme Court has dismissed a legal challenge to last year’s presidential election there, peacefully resolving a dispute that could have forced the West African nation’s new president from office.


The ruling is also a positive example of the use of the legal process to resolve potentially disruptive political disputes. The United States commends the candidates and Ghana’s political parties for their commitment to nonviolence throughout the judicial process and after the verdict was announced.

When the nation went to the polls for the December 2012 presidential elections, Ghana’s independent Electoral Commission declared John Mahama the winner, in a tightly contested race in which he won the balloting by a margin of some 325,000 votes out of 11 million cast. Supporters of his opponent, Nana Akufo-Addo, claimed numerous procedural mishaps had cost their candidate the race and challenged the results in the Supreme Court. Among the problems cited, election workers allegedly had not properly signed off on more than 500,000 votes, while some votes were miscalculated and others had been double counted.

After hearing arguments over six months, with the sessions televised daily, on August 28 the court in a 6-3 decision ruled that it had not found sufficient cause to order a new vote. With the open proceedings, the open public debate during the hearings and the court operating in a transparent, independent fashion , both sides accepted the verdict peacefully.

The United States applauds Ghana’s judicial process and the transparency of the court proceedings. We also compliment civil society organizations and other key stakeholders for their efforts to strengthen democracy and promote peace. We remain committed to working with the people of Ghana, their government, political leaders and civil society to ensure that Ghana remains a model for democratic governance, rule of law and stability.
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