The Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA) has been asked to save its reputation by using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms to resolve the impasse that has characterized its national executive elections.
According to the Ghana National Association of ADR Practitioners, (GNAAP) the GJA needs to be mindful of the adverse effect of the election dispute on its image, advising that the association must settle the misunderstandings out of court.
“The GJA cannot afford to lose its reputation through these disputes because that will have a far reaching effect on the nation,” said Mr. Robert Sarfo Mensah, President of GNAAP.
Last Friday, an Accra High Court restrained the Election Committee of the GJA from re-opening nominations for the association’s national elections, after four aspirants filed an ex-parte motion challenging the re-opening of nominations.
This is the second time the association’s election process has been engulfed in a controversy. The GJA election, which was supposed to be held in March this year, was first halted after Mr. Lloyd Evans, a Presidential aspirant and Matthew Mac Kwame, a Vice Presidential aspirant, who were disqualified from contesting, petitioned the GJA Election Dispute Adjudication Committee (EDAC) against the decision.
Observers find the disputes and controversies an indictment on the GJA and fear the situation could affect its “watch dog” role in the society if not handled properly.
But Mr. Sarfo Mensah, in an interview with ADR Daily today (Monday), said the best way out for the GJA is to adopt an out of court settlement of the dispute.
He said the GJA, with the consent of the aggrieved aspirants, can apply to the Chief Justice or the respective Accra High Court to withdraw the case from court and opt for the Court-Connected ADR programme through which there could be an amicable settlement that would serve the interest of all parties.
He explained that the ADR mechanism which is a participatory and interest based approach, would ensure a win-win situation for all parties, adding that it is cost-effective and will also restore broken relations and consolidate the unity of the GJA.
“If the front of the GJA is split, it will not augur well for the country,” he said, adding that a battered image will make it difficult for journalists to scrutinize other institutions.
In Friday’s order, the court presided over by Justice Daniel Mensah, said the interlocutory injunction on the 2017 GJA elections would remain in effect until the determination of the suit.
The other plaintiffs are Kofi Yeboah, a General Secretary aspirant, Francis Kokutse, a Vice-Presidential aspirant and Vance Azu, Organising Secretary aspirant, while the defendants are Ben Assorow, Chairman of GJA’s Elections Committee and nine others.
After considering against the disqualification of some aspirants, GJA Election Dispute Adjudication Committee (EDAC) cleared a number of those disqualified to contest, but in announcing the decision of the EDAC, the Election Committee declared a re-opening of nominations, indicating a restart of the entire process.
But the plaintiffs challenged that move, saying it was contrary to the constitution of the GJA.
As part of their claims, the plaintiffs averred that it is “unconstitutional” for the Election Committee to re-open nominations since all candidates have been vetted already.
By: Samuel Mingle/adrdaily.com