The Paradoxes of Democracy: Resolving post elections disputes in Guinea | Le Log|

The Paradoxes of Democracy: Resolving post elections disputes in Guinea

Jul 07, 2010

By Dr. Ibrahima Diallo, Maryland, USA

The black swan in the recent elections revealed many surprises the least of which is suggestive of a young nation drowned in a sea of democracy from the many unknowns, and unplanned events by an ill prepared nation seeking to address significant challenges democratically. Accepting the notion that democracy is an evolving and a learning process adaptable to the socio-politico fabric of individual nations, alleviate many judgments in the recent election in Guinea, a country young, inexperienced, and lacking significantly in resources for effective adoption and implementation of core democratic principles. As such, it suggests that the current system that was used to monitor the recent election cannot be expected to be perfect and must be evaluated realistically on the grounds that it is of a learning process thus scrutinize constructively to reaffirm learning from the mistakes made, as means toward ends to prevail democracy over demagoguery, autocratic dictatorship and militarization.

The recent example in Guinea is a prime example of a black swan but presents an opportunity for millions of Guineans to participate in a democratically organized election to elect their president. Of course, they all understand that this is a learning process, new and imperfect and at best with many flaws due to the many unknowns associated with lack of resources, inadequate training, media coverage, voter registration process, oversight and monitoring, leadership, technology, capital, time, logistics, and infrastructure. However, for a new democracy with military and dictatorship leadership for over fifty two years, the current leadership should be commended for their courage, foresight, and steadfast commitments to democracy and national interest over their individual political aspirations.

As such when candidates contest election results rather than concede to the winners, and taking to the streets to protest results, it becomes troubling for a young unstable nation experiencing its first democratic test of democracy. In a democratic sense, “ free and fear “ relates to freedom to exercise your choice as you vote and winner elected by majority vote or in the U.S system, the electoral college. What is important to emphasize is that the people where free from all threats to cast their votes and without persecution to vote otherwise. All candidates that met the requirements were allowed to contest, and a
system was instituted to monitor votes and tally for centralize integration and reporting. Citizens at home and abroad were given an opportunity to register and vote for their candidate of choice. In addition, the international community and the elections committee did accept the results and published all votes without statement of gross fraud and corruption by the election commission. As such, candidates with viable proofs that are fact based contesting the reported results must follow the constitutional process to protest and challenge such results and avoid undermining the integrity of the system or resort to chaos.

The Question now before us is whether the protest of the election results, an assertion of fraud is materially significant, given the current atmosphere, allegations, time frame to the second round, and evidences if any to rule both legally and ethically, given the lack of resources presently. According to the U.N election dispute resolution scheme which provide viable methodologies for collecting and analyzing election disputes and complaints to facilitate the analysis of topical, and geographical election disputes. It maintains that disputes are inherent part of elections. Thus, contesting the system, process, and or results should not be deemed a reflection of weakness but as a proof of strength, vitality and openness of the political system. Therefore, the issues raised by candidates disputing the results, suggest that the system, the electoral commission and the Supreme Court analyze the claim and justify the validity of its report, the administrative actions of election officials, right to redress for violations, and the criminal prosecution of corrupted individuals. In other words, the resolution of election results “Free and Fair” should have mechanisms for dispute resolution and enforcement of policies, right to vote and right to dispute results and duly install in office the candidate with the majority vote. Independent judiciary and legal process as stipulated in the newly adopted constitution of Guinea must be guaranteed with rights to trial, remedies and independent tribunals as appropriate.

The paradoxes in democratic electoral process particularly in the context of Guinea, suggest many concerns in determination of the process in electing the first democratically elected president. Given that the society is highly unsophisticated with inadequate processes, system and resources presents a great Achilles in the electoral system. In the most recent election, the results demonstrate an affinity along ethnic lines. Given the history of the country, socio-economics, media mediocrity due to lack or resources, and political fabric, an atmosphere without ethnic, sectarian and regional influences will suggest a black swan.

In resolving the election disputes to instill confidence from democratic scrutiny, distrust from complaints, the constitution, the legal proceeds, and the supreme court of the land must be given the ultimate authority to determine process, procedures and actions necessary for resolution of dispute and to inspire confidence. In the case of the recent presidential election in Guinea, time is of the essence and must be managed wisely to allow for active campaigning such that the people are given opportunity to be informed of their candidates and to vote wisely based on democratic values, choosing the right man for the office.

Both the CSCE 1990 Copenhagen documents and the U.N non-binding documents adopted in 1962 on the general principles of freedom and non-discrimination in the matter of political right, recognizes a need to enforce all suffrage rights by providing that any aggrieved person should be entitled to seek redress before an independent and impartial tribunal (XIX) and that the decision of elections should be address by the courts or other independent body, such that, the rights of every individual or political party be remedy for violation, the responsibility is on state and nations to ensure that complaints of elections are determined promptly and effectively by an independent authority.

The process for resolving election disputes are comprehensively determined to be complex, expensive and time and resource intensive. At minimum, it includes principles and processes that must be upheld and ascertain including jurisdiction, timeliness, enforcement and prosecution and sanctions for criminal actions. Guidelines includes principles, hierarchy, appellate procedures, accessibility, transparency, timeliness, deadlines, election results, voter registration, validity of candidate, admissibility of complaints and appeals, consistency in interpretation, irregularities, monitoring and the election dispute resolution scheme. A

Article 22 of the newly adopted constitution of Guinea, extends voting rights to all Guineans to promote tolerance and the value of democracy. Article 28 provided conditions for the second ballot following announcement of the final result of the first round of elections. Article 31 provided 30 days of campaigning before the first round with the second round announced the day after the first round with only two candidates on the ballot for the second round. Article 32 provided 8 days for dispute of results with the Supreme Court and 3 days for the Supreme Court to announce its decision according to article 33 of the constitution. The current atmosphere both in theory and practicality is in effective and incomprehensive to address redress and resolve disputes. As such, inspiring confidence in the newly adopted democratic system to reflect democracy by the people and of the people is crucial to promote collectivism for the national good both in Plato and Aristotle sense; individual freedoms, rights and socio-economic development with pressure on elected officials to provide and stimulate opportunities for employment, security, education, energy, healthcare, mass transport, clean water and air. In a sense, as we navigate through our newly adopted democratic system and values, we also accept that the road is going to be difficult but we maintain that the course is in the right direction, mistakes will be made, recalculations are in evident with renewed objectives and goals, missions and priorities toward such ends we deemed significant in our future. Therefore, to effectively resolve our dilemma during this difficult phase in our undertaking, we must ask ourselves, what is the right action to take? Should we use the legal system to resolve this dispute or do we inspire confidence, otherwise? Who and what system should be used? Does doing the right thing inspire confidence and give credence, mandate and authority to the future leader to govern? In addition, is it ethical to move forward without addressing the dispute and would it be ethical not to take any action? Is the complaints itself legal, baseless, supported or unfounded? In making this decision, we must ensure accordingly that the decision is of sound judgment and is made with character under the circumstances. In the current issue, the resource and circumstances suggest that we promote unity, refrain from actions that undermine the democratic framework demonstrating confidence and fairness by responding transparently to fact and not succumb to unfounded allegations by candidate’s naïve and ill- prepared to accept defeat.

It shows that the country beg for selfless leadership that realized the need for national unity with a country first spirit. That is, no man shall claim to be greater than the nation and all are subject to the laws of the country, and free to choose their leadership. Leaders of all parties are expected to accept the results when “free and fair” and are expected to collaborate effectively to promote a national agenda of country first. This is the legacy of the sitting president of the Republic of Guinea, General Sekuba Konate, who decisively and courageously has proven to be a true hero and a patriot like no other African leader before him, sacrificing to bring democracy to Guinea after 52 long years. Long live Guinea and Long Live Konate.

Dr. Ibrahima Diallo, Maryland, USA

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