A survey conducted by The Statesman has shown that Parliamentarians of the New Patriotic Party are split in the middle over whether or not the ruling party should have an early congress to elect a flagbearer for the 2008 general elections.
The opinion poll was done over the last four. Forty one of the one hundred and twenty eight NPP MPs were asked the question whether they preferred an early congress (thus, between the next three months and April 2007) or a late one (between October 2007 and January 2008).
Twenty said they wanted an early presidential nomination, with nineteen preferring a latter date. One MP was undecided but prepared to go for the option that would best advance the case to keep the National Democratic Congress firmly in opposition.
The party's constitution simply states that a new presidential candidate should be elected not later than eleven months to the next general elections when the party is in power. Thus, neither of the options offends the NPP constitution.
A party conference next month is expected to fix a date for the presidential primary. But, the process of setting a date for the primary should begin by the National Executive Committee in the next couple of weeks. The smart money is on a compromised date, probably between June and August 2007.
There seems to be a collective determination within the party leadership for the campaign period not to fall around the Golden Jubilee celebration of Ghana's independence. The Early-ites want the next candidate elected before March 2007 so that the party can unite behind that leader for the Independence anniversary and beyond.
The Laterites, for their part, believe President Kufuor and his government should remain the center of focus for as long as it is strategically possible, fearing a divided attention at the top would only harm the party.
But, the Early-ites quaff at this, saying the divided attention is very much on, with about ten sets of campaign teams for various candidates currently knocking the doors of party executives for attention.
The Early-ites, at our last count last month, included most of the potential candidates. Nine out of ten aspirants and their campaign teams contacted said they preferred an early date.
The MPs who support this line, further argue that since the party is going for a fresh presidential candidate to present to the general electorate, an early primary will afford the party enough time to market the fresh flagbearer, with visits to every district, town and hamlet.
They also say some campaign activists are busily throwing mud at rival camps and this can best be checked by cutting short this unofficial campaign period.
“We need to quickly unite before the next leader or face implosion,” warned one Early-ite MP.
“The ideal situation would have been not have had people campaigning so early in the day, at all. But, who says politics is perfect?” a pragmatic Early-ite said.
A known leading presidential aspirant and a mega Early-ite said, because the main opposition party, the New Democratic Congress, will open nominations this August to choose a leader before the end of the year, the NPP needs to keep apace to stop the NDC from assuming the upper hand.
Source: The Statesman