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17.08.2006 NDC News

NDC flagbearship: Why so many people?

By mjol
NDC flagbearship: Why so many people?
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The largest opposition party, the NDC has set the tone for the 2008 elections with the opening of nominations for a flag bearer to lead it to the polls.

Even before the nominations were opened, party supporters and analysts have been debating the unprecedented large number of people interested in the NDC presidential candidacy.

At least five leading members are expected to pick up nominations between today and the second of December.

JoyNEWS reporter Bennet Frimpong has been speaking to some analysts about the number of people showing interest in the NDC position and what it means for the party.

For the first time in the history of Jerry Rawlings' NDC, party executives and delegates will be confronted with a barrage of suitors who'll not only try to convince them, but will make deciding on either of them difficult.

It has never happened before in the decade plus years of the party. The selection of flag bearer in 1992 and 1996 was not difficult and non-negotiable because the leader then was off course Jerry Rawlings.

When the 2000 elections provided an opportunity for the party to open up its election process, the sitting president at the time indicated that his Vice president John Atta Mills will have his support should he decide to contest.

That Swedru declaration effectively nailed the ambitions of other party members, forcing some like Goosie Tanoh to breakaway, form the Reform Party and try his luck.

Some party activists and analysts still believe that the Swedru declaration contributed to the party's loss of the 2000 elections.

The first attempt at selecting a candidate through the electoral system came in 2002, in preparation for the 2004 elections, but only two people came forward.

Some rightly said it was a 'no-contest' because of the personality of Professor Mills' opponent and also because Mills had Rawlings' support.

But things appear different now, with as many as five leading members in contention and leading figures including Jerry Rawlings barred from open admission of support for either candidate. Also, it is about clear now that Mills cannot count on a third time support from Rawlings.

Kwesi Jonah who is head of governance at the Institute of Economic Affairs says the current situation in the NDC could be a deliberate effort at doing away with the wholesale declaration of support for a particular candidate.

Having suffered from allegations of intolerance and undemocratic in the past, Mr. Jonah says the new era would free the party from the widely held public perception that it is intolerant of divergent choices and opinions.

For some though, the fact that so many people are showing interest clearly exemplifies the fact that Party founder Jerry Rawlings would not support anyone as he did in the past.

Others believe the shear courage of the personalities to declare their interest would send signals to President Rawlings that he is no longer that fearful person in the NDC.

But Mr. Jonah says that is not the case. The founder's role he says, has been clearly been defined now.

It is expected that probably more people would join John Mills, Edward Annan, Ekwow Spio Garbrah, John Mahama and Iddrisu Mahama.

There are also opportunities for alliances and partnerships that would see some become running mates.

What is however clear is that delegates who would be attending the the December 16 congress, all things been equal, would have a pool to choose from for the 2008 battle.

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