The ECOWAS Court of Justice on Tuesday, 30th October 2018 directed the Republic of Guinea to ‘urgently’ file its defence in five (5) cases brought by four Guineans and an Association, who claimed they were being frustrated in their attempt to register a political party in compliance with a national law that requires government authorization prior to registration.

In addition to their initiating applications, the Applicants also filed an Application for accelerated hearing of the cases.

At a hearing in Abuja, the Applicants made two applications through their Counsel, Barrister Drame Alpha Yaya for the consolidation of the five cases in line with Article 38 of the Rules of the Court for ease of deliberation and to enable the Court deliver a single judgment.

The second application was for the grant of accelerated procedure for the hearing of the cases in view of impending legislative elections.

In its ruling, the Court ordered the consolidation of the four cases filed by the individuals; Barry Abdoulaye Sadio, Barry Ibrahima, Tolno Layba and Diallo Thierno Ibrahima, but rejected the consolidation of the case filed by the Association, Le Bloc Pour L’Alternance en Guinee, on the ground that the Applicant is not a legal person.

Barry Abdoulaye Sadio, Barry Ibrahima, Tolno Layba, Diallo Thierno Ibrahima and Le Bloc Pour L’Alternance en Guinee, had filed separate suits requesting the orders of the Court to condemn the Guinean government for its failure to process their application to form a political party and to exercise their rights through the party. 

Counsel to the Applicants told the Court that in Guinea, authorization must be obtained from the government before a political party can be recognized as duly registered to carry out its political functions. He further informed the Court that the Applicants decided to create a Political Party on the 1st of August 2016 and had submitted their application as required by law but there has been no response. That they later wrote an appeal and made other approaches but till the date of hearing, no decision has been received from the authorizing government office.

The Counsel averred that the Applicants filed their application for accelerated hearing to enable them legally exercise their rights as members of a political party in the forthcoming legislative election, having missed the local council election held on 4th of February 2018.

He argued that if the Applicants are denied the opportunity to contest the forthcoming election, they will suffer irreparable damages as they would have to wait for five years for the next election and would require at least 60 days to prepare for the election.  

They had individually asked the Court to hold the Guinean Government liable for the prejudice suffered from the lack of authorization and to order the State to pay compensation in the sum of fifty million FCFA (50,000,000 FCFA) for moral prejudice, eight million FCFA (8,000,000) for lawyer/litigation fees and two million FCFA (2,000,000) as cost for travels and accommodate on/lodging.

The Court had earlier observed that the Defendant, the Government of Guinea was yet to file any defence to the five cases, despite being served with the initiating applications and was also not represented in Court, having been served with hearing notices for the Court session of 30th October 2018.

The matter was heard by the complete bench comprising Honorable Justices Edward Asante (President of the Court), Gberi-Be Ouattara (Vice President and Judge Rapporteur), Dupe Atoki, Keikura Bangura and Januaria Silva Moreira Costa.