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19.10.2007 Politics

Kumasi Politics - all eyes on 2008

Politics in Kumasi, whether inter-party or intra party, has always been hot and interesting with the dominant political tradition – the Danquah-Busia tradition always at the helm of affairs.

Since the pre-independence era, Kumasi, Ghana's second largest city, has remained the epicentre of Ghanaian politics. Whether for good or for bad, no one can write off the name of Kumasi from the history of Ghanaian politics.

From the days of the National Liberation Movement (NLM) spearheaded by the late linguist of the Asantehene, Baffour Osei Akoto, through the United Party (UP) days to the present NPP administration, Kumasi has been a key player in Ghanaian politics.

Attempts by the NLM to control the political landscape using Kumasi as the operational centre led to clashes between the party's supporters and Dr Kwame Nkrumah's Convention People's Party (CPP) during the pre-independence and the immediate post independence eras leading to casualties and injuries to a number of people, as well as destruction to property. All these while, the people of the city, have remained faithful to the Danquah-Busia political tradition.

Indeed it will become extremely difficult for any party outside this political tradition to break the monotony of electoral results in the metropolis. Today that struggle is between the ruling NPP and the main opposition the NDC, which holds only one constituency in Kumasi, Asawase.

But what has been difficult to resolve most often is intra-party politics which roots to the Danquah-Busia tradition. Fierce struggle for political positions has been registered in constituencies within the city but most significantly this has not affected the unity of the party.

Currently interesting developments are going on in the ruling NPP in Kumasi, which many people have not noticed but are real. There is the struggle for parliamentary seats even though nominations are yet to be opened. The Situation has been kept on the low profile because of the NPP presidential race, which has overshadowed all other party developments for now.

Two of the constituencies which portends such happenings in the NPP are Manhyia and Subin.

The incumbent Member of Parliament, Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, for instance is bowing out as MP for Manhyia and the question is who would succeed him? Winning the elections at Manhyia will never be a problem for the NPP but the issue to be addressed is who will lead the party to contest the seat in December 2008.

One should remember that it is the constituency of President Kufuor, Otumfuo Asantehene and many of the high ranking people in Kumasi so why should people not be interested in that constituency?

Records have it that, the two MPs from Manhyia who are from the stable of the Danquah-Busia tradition became ministers when their parties won national elections.

Dr Kwame Safo-Adu who won the highest number of constituency votes in the country during the 1969 elections became the Minister of Agriculture while Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor was the Minister of Defence until he called it quits to pursue his ambition to lead the NPP to the 2008 presidential election.

As the search for a successor to Dr Addo-Kufuor begins one name that has come up is the Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Osei Assibey Antwi. Even though he is not a heavyweight in national politics, Mr Antwi can count on his popularity within the constituency to sprint to victory.

The constituency chairman of the party, Mr. Boakye Mensah, told me that so far only Mr. Antwi had informed him of his desire to contest the primaries.

He however confirmed that pressure from some party gurus and members of the constituency to convince one Mr J.K. Mensah, a popular personality in the constituency to contest the primaries has been turned down by the man.

Rumours circulating at the constituency especially "Me ne Wota" a drinking spot which Mr Mensah owns at Ashanti New Town are that the man had declined to contest because according to him, he is retiring from his work to enter into farming after 2008.

Investigations conducted by this writer also revealed that names like Napoleon Prempeh and Mr Boakye, as well as two people based outside the country were likely to contest the primaries.

The battle will also not be easy in the Subin constituency. It is certain that the Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Mr Isaac Osei, will be vying for the seat in the event of the incumbent MP, Mr S.K. Boafo leaving the seat, so expect a hot race.

Another area where the contest could also attract attention is Old Tafo/Pankrono, currently occupied by the Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Kumasi based lawyer, Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie aka Sir John has signalled he is ready to wrestle the NPP seat from Dr Akoto-Osei, a declaration which has been dismissed by the minister's supporters who felt that it would be a cool win for Dr Akoto-Osei because of his track record.

The coming months will therefore be interesting for NPP politics in Kumasi and all have to wait after the national congress to see how the constituencies would go.