July 25, 2017
Mediation is the only way out of the crisis at the Electoral Commission, says Austin Gamey, renowned labour relations expert.
According to him, neither a legal battle, an impeachment process nor arbitration can save the situation, except a mediation mechanism is deployed to get the feuding parties to resolve their differences.
“There has to be a facilitated mediation to get the parties to drop emotions and talk to each other for a solution,” he said.
His recommendation comes in the wake of calls by various groups and personalities for the use of arbitration to resolve the impasse at the EC that has been characterized by accusations and counter accusations among the Commissioners of the EC, placing the integrity of the electoral body at risk.
A group calling itself concerned workers of EC, last week filed a petition to the President to initiate the process for the impeachment of the EC chairperson, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, accusing her of financial malfeasance and mismanagement. That action opened a can of accusations and counter accusations of impropriety between Mrs. Osei and her two deputies.
All the parties have threatened court action, and Mrs. Osei, today, filed a defamation suit against the counsel for the anonymous group of concerned workers, claiming damages for the accusations leveled against her in the petition to the President.
The Peace Council, among other bodies, has called for truce and an amicable resolution of the impasse, using arbitration.
But Mr. Gamey, in an interview with ADR Daily today, noted that although all the options are fine, “these will not provide the solution.”
He indicated that the criminal element of the matter would have to be taken up by the investigative bodies, but the substantive matter which is the differences between the commissioners would have to be resolved.
This is because, even if a legal battle ensues, only one side will win. And if the chairperson is impeached or all the three commissioners are sent out, and new people are appointed, the problem will remain without a solution, he explained.
“If there is no talking, there is no solution,” he stressed, adding that “what can be done is to opt for not an ordinary mediation, but a facilitated mediation by an expert to get them to talk to each other.”
The EC, which is not an “ordinary commission,” he said, is too important to be allowed to be destroyed by such internal differences among its leadership.
Due to the sensitive nature of the Commission and the impasse, any resolution effort has to be managed appropriately and with high circumspection, otherwise the crisis can worsen.
Asked whether an intervention from the President would be appropriate, Mr. Gamey cautioned that such a move has to be carefully calculated.
That, he said, is because a presidential directive can create unnecessary blame for the President.
“The four year term of the President is too new to be embroiled in such controversy,” he said.
By Nii Adotey/adrdaily.com