..By-election Fever To Spoil X'mas And New Year Party
Ghanaians will be ushered into another acrimonious by-election, following the sudden death of Akwasi Afrifa, former New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Fomena in Ashanti Region last week.
The rules governing by-elections arising out of death state that Parliament will have to notify the Electoral Commission (EC) of the vacancy that has been created through a letter.
Seven days upon the receipt of the letter, the EC will set in motion the arrangements and plan of activity for the expected by-election. The election then comes off 60 days upon the receipt of the notification. Going by this calculation the by-election may take place before February, 2007. Thus 2007 will all, but set the tone for
a fierce 2008 election.
By-elections in this country, with the exception of a few, have been characterized by hate campaigns and acrimony sometimes resulting in the loss of lives- the Asawase by-election is a classic case in point. The hate campaign, invectives and the most foul use of language that preceded the recent Offinso South by-election following the death of its MP, Kwabena Sarfo, was to say the least most unfortunate, particularly considering the high profile of the personalities who were involved—the sitting President and the only surviving ex-President.
The utterances of the two leaders sparked off a blitz of news conferences by both the NPP and the National Democratic Congress (NDC). The military was also compelled to join the fray and responded to allegations of a coup plot which had run through the pronouncements of both the incumbent President and the former President.
The former President Jerry Rawlings was the first to draw the battle lines when he stormed the Offinso South Constituency, lambasting the Kufuor administration and accusing it of implementing policies that had stagnated the nation's economic progress at a political rally a few days to the election.
Speaking at a mini-rally at Abofour, near Offinso the former president accused the Kufuor Administration of being infested with corruption, stealing and hypocrisy, which he said, accounted for the under-development of the nation. Jerry told the rally that it was shameful and disgraceful to be a follower or supporter of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which he accused of rigging the 2004 general elections.
He charged NDC supporters and activists to be bold and resist any attempt by the ruling government to rig any future elections in the country. He charged members of his party to rise up and fight for their freedom, adding that the soldiers and the police are prepared to back them. A day before the elctions at Offinso the ruling President also took his turn to address a politcal rally at offinso where he also accused his predecessor, Jerry Rawlings, of seeking funds abroad for a coup. Kufuor alleged that Rawlings had traveled to an oil-rich country to seek funding to overthrow his administration.
The President warned that “if he attempted anything nasty, he would be dealt with appropriately.”
In a swift response the former President J. J Rawlings went into his elements when he addressed students of the London South Bank University in the United Kingdom during a Back History month, again accusing the sitting President of totally mismanaging the affairs of the country. According to him, the coming into office of President Kufuor and his party in 2004 was through a foul rather than a fair means, as “the presidential election was clearly rigged”.
He announced that following the party's disagreement with the results of the elections, an action was initiated in the court for redress. Mr. Rawlings noted that although some officers at the Electoral Commission had attempted to destroy the ballot papers in some ballot boxes, the NDC had taken steps to bring this to the attention of the court to restrain those officers from further destroying the entire ballot papers.
“President Kufuor should prove to the nation how he won the elections; he must prove it,” he fumed.
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) also joined the furore and alleged that an attempt was being made to eliminate former President Jerry John Rawlings.With the NPP's natural quest to maintain its majority in Parliament by retaining the Fomena seat, and the NDC's ambition to close the gap, one should expect nothing less than a fierce battle before, during and after the by-election.
The NPP will be facing another test of its popularity by NDC. But in the NPP heartland of Ashanti Region, NDC has another tough electoral battle on hand. Born on September 25, 1955, the late Afrifa had his Bachelor of Arts (BA) from the University of Ghana in 1980 and Post Graduate Diploma in Industrial Management from the KNUST in 1989. He taught at Opoku Ware Secondary School (OWASS) where he rose to the rank of an Assistant Director.
The late Afrifa was a Christian by faith and member of the Church of Pentecost. He was elected MP in 1997 and until his death was the Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Communication, and a member of the Committee of Selection.