Former New Patriotic Party (NPP) National Chairman, Samuel Arthur Odoi-Sykes has described as normal, the intense rivalry between party stalwarts who are jostling to take over from President John Agyekum Kufuor.
According to him, NPP presidential primaries have always been characterized by tension and anxiety, which always fizzle out after the election of a presidential candidate.
Mr. Odoi-Sykes said these to the NPP presidential aspirants at a meeting arranged by the party's Council of Elders and President Kufuor at the Osu Castle on Monday.
A statement issued in Accra yesterday and signed by Peter Mac Manu, NPP National Chairman, noted that the meeting was held in an atmosphere of frankness and cordiality.
“The about three hours meeting held in an atmosphere of frankness and openness was characterized by civility and decorum.
It was preceded by a presentation on the concerns of the aspirants by the chairman of the committee, Mr. Francis Poku, who appealed for unity and goodwill among the aspirants,” the statement said.
The crisis meeting was called by the Mediation Committee of the Council of Elders to assure all the 19 aspirants of a level playing field. However, two aspirants, Boakye Kyerematen Agyarko and John Kwame Kodua did not attend, with no reason being assigned for their absence. Mr. Kodua later disclosed that an invitation was not extended to him.
According to Mac Manu, the aspirants raised two major concerns regarding the December 22 delegates' congress at the University of Ghana, Legon, including the suspected presidential support for a particular aspirant and the knotty issue of selection of delegates.
He said the President allayed the fears of the aspirants, denying his support for any of them.
“He (President Kufuor) reiterated his statement made at the Asamankese rally on October 7, 2007 that the competition for the flagbearer slot was an internal NPP affair and emphasized that he considered it his responsibility to refrain from any manifest support for any one candidate,” the NPP Chairman said.
President Kufuor, he said, told the aspirants to feel the heat of the competition in order to toughen the winner in readiness for the 2008 elections.
Mr. Mac Manu assured the aspirants of the integrity of the process leading to the congress.
He said the integrity of the electoral process would not be compromised and that “the party would strive to ensure that the electoral process and procedures were entirely fair and transparent”.
Mr. Odoi-Sykes, who piloted the congress that elected President Kufuor in 1998, noted that reason had prevailed after every presidential congress, with unity and team spirit remaining at the core.
The aspirants were said to have agreed to work together in unity after the congress.
At the meeting, some of the aspirants complained about the absence of a level playing ground which they described as a potential minefield.
According to Dr. Arthur Kennedy, who has abandoned his lucrative medical job in the United States to serve his motherland, unity was crucial in order for the party to win the election.
“To achieve unity, it is necessary for the primary process to be fair. This fairness, I suggest, is at risk because of, amongst other things, an absence of trust amongst the aspirants, between aspirants and the President, as well as between aspirants and the party hierarchy,” Dr. Kennedy told DAILY GUIDE in a follow-up to yesterday's publication, about which he said he had been misquoted.
He said he had delivered a confidential letter to the party chairman, highlighting the way out of the logjam.
“I informed the gathering that I had delivered a confidential letter to the party chairman, expressing my concern on some of the causes of the discontent and anxiety in our midst.
“It was therefore my considered opinion that the meeting should honestly address the causes of the mistrust between various individuals and groups in our party,” the Asebu-born medical practitioner-turned-politician said.
By Fortune Alimi