A constitutional lawyer, Prof Kofi Quashigah, has said the postponement of nominations by the Electoral Commission (EC) is within their legal mandate and regulatory framework.
He said by the regulations of the commission, the indefinite postponement would not affect the electoral calendar of the commission.
Prof Quashigah, who is also the acting Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, said going by the Public Elections Regulations, 1996 (C.I. 15) of the EC, nominations for all the presidential and parliamentary aspirants could be opened anytime from September 8, 2008.
However, nominations had to close by November 7, 2008, in accordance with Regulation 2 subsection 3, which states that “the day on which the poll is to be taken shall not be less than thirty days or more than ninety days after the last day appointed for the nomination of candidates in the case of a general election.”
He said that meant nomination of candidates had to be anytime between September 8, and November 7, 2008.
Prof Quashigah affirmed the statement of the EC Chairman that all the people vying for presidential and parliamentary positions were not yet candidates but still aspiring for that position.
“Under regulation 4 and 5, there are specific processes that these aspirants must go through to become nominated as presidential or parliamentary candidates, and until this process of nomination is gone through, technically no one is a candidate but all are still aspiring.
Responding to what options political parties had if at the last minute some aspirants did not meet all the processes to be nominated, Prof Quashigah pointed out that the regulations made provision for an extension of the nomination day by another 10 days under Regulation 11 (2), only in the situation where due to unforeseen circumstances, only one candidate remained in the contest prior to the election.
That meant that if a day to the elections several of the nominated candidates could not contest, but only one candidate could, then a further 10 days had to be given for the nomination of their replacements to context.
However, the inability of a single aspirant to successful go through the nomination process would not stall the EC’s schedule, he said, and gave the example of Mr Ward Brew of the Democratic Freedom Party (DPP), who could not successfully go through the nomination in 2004.
Furthermore, under Regulation 11 (3), if after the ten-day extension period for nominations there was still only one nominated candidate in the contest, then there would be no election and that candidate would be declared elected, he said.
On the other hand, however, if only one duly nominated candidate fell out of the context prior to election, and a majority were still in the context, the election would go.
He explained that this was in keeping with the promotion of mullet party spirit under the constitution.
Prof Quashigah said it was clear that the EC was clearly within the permitted schedule for elections, however, in view of the limited time available to parties from the time of nominations to the polling day, it was important for parties to work hard and deal with all the wrangling that had characterised some of the primaries.
He said all had to be done to strengthen the electoral process and inter-party wrangling or pockets of confusion could impact on the process and the main polling day.
He said if parties did not deal quickly with their differences, the peace and serenity expected to characterise the election process would be absent and that would not augur well for the country.