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07.04.2008 Politics

Mills is his 'own man' could be ploy - Arthur Kennedy

By The Statesman
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The Chairman of the Communications Committee of the New Patriotic Party's Election '08 campaign, Arthur Kobina Kennedy has cautioned Ghanaians against the likelihood that the widely publicised rift between the Rawlingses and John Atta Mills could be one big deception to set the stage for Prof Mills to create the impression that he is now his own man.

The Statesman quotes an interview Dr. Kennedy granted the Trunk News Agency at the weekend in which he said the NPP was observing unfolding events in the National Democratic Congress, like every Ghanaian, "with some hope, however, distant we may see it, that Mr Rawlings and his party will one day fully embrace the democratic principles of free will."

Mrs Rawlings has issued a strong public warning to NDC leader Mills to drop his running mate preference and, instead, choose Betty Mould Iddrisu, the couple's preferred candidate.

According to the Statesman, with the announcement of John Mahama as Prof Mills' running mate expected mid-week, the NDC has already put together an elaborate spin onslaught, to present the selection of John Mahama as the clearest indication that former Vice President Mills is not a stooge of former President Rawlings.

On the seeming struggle between the NDC founder's household and the NDC leader's camp over the choice of running mate, Dr Kennedy had this to say: "The struggle for the December elections will be won by the party who wins over the majority of floating voters. But, the floating voters do not want a President beholden to former President Rawlings. They see the NDC in the image of Rawlings and Mills as a handpicked caretaker of the party that Rawlings formed." Therefore the NDC is determined to change the perception of Prof. Mills as Rawlings' man.

The NPP campaign official said there is therefore "this suspicion in some quarters that this whole unpleasant public display by Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings is merely to set the stage for Prof Mills to present himself to the sceptical Ghanaian public as a born again freed man by taking John Mahama."

Dr Arthur Kennedy wondered why despite the Rawlings' commitment to having a woman as vice-president, they had two chances to put a woman on the NDC ticket in 1992 and 1996 and chose not to.

He continued, "Mrs Rawlings tells us that in 2004 John Mahama was her husband's preferred candidate but that they treated their party's official leader with kid gloves and allowed him to have his candidate, Alhaji Mumuni."

"She has further disclosed that when Mr Rawlings failed in his campaign to have Prof Mills' running mate chosen before the NPP congress last year, the candidate Mr Rawlings had in mind was still his 2004 candidate, John Mahama. This has made some people wonder how come that today Prof Mills has finally come around "to accept the founder's candidate. The founder is running away from that candidate," observed Dr. Kennedy.

There are also those who are following events on the public stage and seeing them as "just a slight preview of the deepening divisions within the party. This school of thought argues that the Rawlingses' main issue is not even with who partners Prof Mills. Their issue is that they have lost confidence in the Mills-for-President project. Mr and Mrs Rawlings don't think that the man that Mr Rawlings imposed on his party as its leader in 2000 simply has what it takes to beat Nana Akufo-Addo in December."

The NPP communications leader told the TNA that whatever the facts are will unfold as the elections date draws nearer.

Dr. Kennedy said he hoped the NDC will join the NPP in consolidating democracy in Ghana, starting from within. "So far, if what Mrs Rawlings is saying is true then it means that whatever signs of democracy that we are seeing from the NDC are merely as a result of a temporary application of kid gloves and that the respite may soon be over as the party that Rawlings built reverts to form."

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