The National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Peter Mac Manu, has made it clear that the party will employ its time honoured methods of compromise, consensus and voting to select delegates for the December 22 crucial congress to elect a flag bearer for the party.
He recalled that since 1992, the party had adopted the instruments of compromise and consensus to select delegates but in constituencies where those methods were rejected, elections were held. He said the same principles would apply for the upcoming congress.
The national chairman, therefore, assured all the party's presidential aspirants that the process of selecting delegates for the December congress would not be manipulated by the national executive or anybody.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, Mr Mac Manu quoted Article (18) of the NPP Constitution to buttress his point.
The relevant article reads: "Every Constituency executive committee shall convene an extraordinary constituency delegates conference to elect, when required, six (6) members of the constituency who are not constituency officers, together with four (4) constituency officers, to be the ten (10) delegates of the constituency to attend the national congress.”
However, concerns have been raised about the selection of delegates for the December 22 congress, especially about the openness and transparency of the processes leading to the selection and how soon and accessible the delegates list will be to all the aspirants.
It was one of the cardinal issues discussed at a recent meeting between President Kufuor and 17 of the presidential aspirants. The other issues discussed were the President's alleged support for Mr Alan Kyerematen, one of the aspirants, and the use of money to influence would be delegates.
Mr Mac Manu said for that reason, it would be difficult to heed the request of some aspirants that there should be uniformity in the selection process, saying that the issue would be looked at on a case by case basis through the use of the three processes.
He assured the aspirants and their supporters that the process which had been used all these years would not be subjected to abuse nor lend itself to any legal tussles.
That was because the national leadership of the party was determined to ensure that unity, integrity and cool heads prevailed after the congress for an effective election so that President Kufuor would hand over power to an NPP elected President, he said.
Citing an instance of consensus in the selection of candidates, Mr Mac Manu said in 1998, the then candidate Kufuor was elected the presidential candidate of the party, but in Sekondi in 2003, the party, by acclamation, endorsed him to run for a second term.
He explained that an election was a process and not an event and that was why before the election day, consultations and compromises were reached.
"Indeed, even now the aspirants are going round consulting would-be delegates, as well as the party's rank and file," the chairman said.
He explained that the constituency chairmen and their executives would engage in consultation processes before the election and in some cases the party executives at the constituency level could take a decision as to who should represent them at the congress.
"In some cases they can decide that if you attended the congress that elected the national executive, you don't have to participate in the selection of the presidential candidate.
In the selection of the non-executive members, the constituency executives can also decide that because of the contribution of people like the chairman of the Council of Elders, district chief executives (DCEs) and some Members of Parliament (MPs), they can be part of the delegates," he explained.
Earlier, the NPP had come out with a statement on the meeting President Kufuor had with 17 out of the 19 presidential aspirants of the party.
It said in order to ensure transparency in the processes and procedures for the election of a flag bearer for the NPP in the 2008 elections, the party had asked all its presidential aspirants to nominate a representative who would be briefed regularly on the processes to ensure that the aspirants were fully conversant with them.
That came out after President Kufuor had met with 17 presidential aspirants of the party on Monday, October 15, 2007 at the instance of members of the Council of Elders of the NPP in the 2008 elections at the Castle, Osu.
At the meeting, President Kufuor allayed the fears of the presidential aspirants when he stated emphatically that he did not support any of them.
He reiterated his statement already made at the Asamankese rally on October 7, 2007 that the competition for the flag bearer slot was an internal NPP affair and emphasised that he considered it his responsibility to refrain from any support to any one candidate.
This was contained in a press statement signed by the National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Peter Mac Manu, and issued in Accra.
Mr Boakye Kyeremanteng Agyarko and Mr John Kwame Kodua did not attend the meeting.
According to the statement, two major concerns were raised by the various aspirants who alleged they were not comfortable with the support of the President for a particular candidate in the contest and the selection of delegates for the December 22 congress.
The statement stressed the importance for all the aspirants to feel the heat of the internal competition as a useful preparation for the intense competition during the general election.
It said the almost three-hour meeting held in an atmosphere of frankness and openness was characterised by civility and decorum. It was preceded by a presentation on the concerns of the aspirants by the chairman of the committee, Mr Francis Opoku, who appealed for unity and goodwill among the aspirants.
Mr Mac Manu also gave a special presentation in which he assured the aspirants that the integrity of the electoral process would not be compromised and that the party would strive to ensure that the processes and procedures were entirely fair and transparent.
A former National Chairman of the NPP, Mr S.A. Odoi-Sykes, reminded those assembled that the party had held congresses to nominate flag bearers for elections from 1992 and each of them had been characterised by tension and anxiety.