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n African Journal of Rhetoric - Rhetoric, power and political crisis : a rhetorical discourse analysis of Ghana’s 2012 election petition

Volume 10 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054

Abstract

This paper examines the intersections between rhetoric and power during Ghana’s 2012 election petition. Specifically, it uses rhetorical discourse analysis (RDA) to show how power is constructed between representatives of two political parties during cross-examination. Through micro and macro-discursive analysis of data, the paper argues that the courtroom discourse during Ghana’s 2012 election petition was not meant to just persuade the panel of judges and that power framed and determined what was significant in the courtroom interactions. It further suggests that this discursive construction of power during cross-examinations is complicated by the fusion of ‘legal’ and ‘political’ power which impacts the production of the three modes of proof (ethos, pathos and logos) and ultimately, determines the outcome of the case itself. The paper concludes that given the adversarial nature of politics, the adversarial court system is perhaps not the best means for resolving such complications as its institutional context creates excessive adversariness that gives room for political showmanship. This situation provides little or no opportunities for ‘deliberations’ between parties on possible lapses within the electoral process under contestation. The paper suggests that the rhetoric-power dynamic in the courtroom interrogates the belief that the 2012 petition enhanced Ghana’s democracy.

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/content/journal/10520/EJC-11a58afa5e
2018-10-01
2019-07-15

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