350 observers to monitor NDC Special Congress
About 350 international and local electoral monitors would observe the Special National Delegates' Congress of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) slated for December 20th to 22nd in Accra to elect the Party's presidential candidate for Election 2008.
The observers include the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), local electoral monitors as well as representatives of all political parties in the country and other democratic stakeholders.
The Ghana News Agency says Mr Baba Jamal, NDC Deputy General Secretary, explained to its reporters that the invitation of foreign and local observers to monitor the election of the potential next President of Ghana was to give credence to the Party's vow for democratic values.
He said "NDC is demonstrating and setting a new political agenda especially on the selection of a presidential candidate for other parties to emulate us. Therefore, throughout the process, the Party spelt out high standards for all the aspiring candidates; national and regional executives, Members of Parliament and the rank and file.”
"These standards, we believe, had enhanced internal politicking and projected the Party as a responsible democratic opposition waiting to annex the reins of governance of the country in 2009", he explained.
Mr Jamal said 1,720 delegates would be attending the one purpose Congress to elect the presidential candidate.
The delegates include national and regional executives as well as other special representatives from the constituencies and executives from six foreign branches, who had confirmed their participation.
The four candidates contesting the election are Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, Former Defence Minister; Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Former Minister of Education; Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, Former Vice President and Mr Edward Annan, a Businessman.
On arrangements for security at the Congress, Mr Jamal said the Police Service and other national security agencies had been fully entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the safety of delegates.
"The Party has discussed security arrangements with the Police High Command and we expect nothing else than the exhibition of professional standards by the men and women in uniform, who would be deployed on Congress grounds," he said.
Mr Jamal said all logistics had been secured for the Congress, adding "we are surely ready for the Congress".
He advised delegates, representatives of all the aspirants; the rank and file; local and international observers; representatives of political parties; media and cross-section of the public to strictly adhere to the rules and regulations of the Congress to ensure a successful event.
Last Year, the party's congress to elect national executives registered incidents of violence when some delegates were attacked. Some members of the party led by Dr Obed Asamoah, former Chairman, later broke away to form the Democratic Freedom Party.
The NDC has taken a series of steps to ensure that it buries its tag of a party that does not have a democratic culture. Last Tuesday, it organised a ballot to determine the position of the four candidates on the ballot paper, as it took another step to democratise its activities and make its actions transparent.
Alhaji Iddrisu would occupy the top of the ballot paper, with Dr Spio-Garbrah at the second spot followed by Professor Mills while Mr Annan would be the fourth, according to the balloting conducted at the NDC Headquarters by the Electoral Commission.
The four candidates at a family meeting organised by the Party, stressed unity as the most important factor that would ensure victory for the Party in Election 2008.
The four who took turns to address a national stakeholders' forum, indicated that upholding the Party's interest was paramount in consolidating intra-party democracy.
The forum dubbed: "Family Meeting" was organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Netherlands Institute of Multiparty Democracy as part of efforts to deepen intra-party democracy and to provide a platform to the candidates to sell their vision to the public.
Alhaji Mahama said people must be allowed to freely make their choice of a flagbearer, adding that intolerance of other peoples' views would not promote unity in the Party.
He said while it was natural for supporters of the various candidates to disagree on issues, they should, however, not fight each other.
Dr Spio-Garbrah said there was the need for the Party to build alliances with others to ensure victory in 2008 and pledged his commitment to focus on re-branding and marketing the Party to make it attractive and appealing to Ghanaians.
Prof. Mills said the success of the Party must be put above any individual interest, adding it was the duty of all to forge oneness before and after the National Delegates' Congress.
Mr Annan on his part said he would bring his business acumen to bear on the development and forward march of the Party.