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18.12.2002 General News

Uneasiness In NDC Camp

By JOY FM News
Uneasiness In NDC Camp
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There is a feeling of uneasiness in the camp of the main opposition party, NDC, following a public declaration of support by its founder for one of two contestants for the partys presidential ticket. Some party officials say former president Jerry Rawlings has not flouted the partys rules by speaking against Dr. Kwesi Botchweys bid to lead the party in the 2004 Presidential elections. But the reluctance of the partys hierarchy to deal with the matter could set the wrong tone for its congress on Saturday.

Former President Rawlings speech at Effiduase, Ashanti Region urging delegates not to elect his former Finance Minister, Dr. Botchwey was his first open declaration of his stand on the choice of a presidential candidate for the party.

Analysts say considering his position in the party and in national politics, Mr. Rawlings comments ahead of Saturdays congress could impact negatively on the whole process.

His favorite, former vice President Prof Atta Mills is meanwhile strenuously trying to debunk suggestions that he is living in the shadows of his former boss.

So, Mr. Rawlings comments do not help Prof Mills cause much. Some party members and critics of the former president have called for his reprimand. But deputy general secretary, Baba Jamal shares a different view.

According to him, JJ legally broke no rules. I have heard it over and over again that people are always flouting rules of the party and we are not doing anything about it. For example you are talking about the former President. He is the Chairman of the Council of Elders but he made the statements as an individual and therefore we cannot say he has broken any law in the party. Let me repeat this, he has not broken any law in the party and for that matter you cannot expect the party to take any action against him.

But Baba Jamal says the NDCs leadership is worried about such statements from the former President, considering his influence and the support he enjoys in the party. NDC cannot win elections without Rawlings and I am confident about that. For that matter we expect our Leader to be a neutral body that unites all of us so in the circumstance where he takes sides, it becomes a most source of worry for all of us and I think most people have expressed that.

Clearly, the NDC is going to congress with this particular outstanding issue festering in the minds of supporters of the two candidates. Despite the assurance that efforts are being made to restrain Mr. Rawlings, many within and outside of the party would rather he was reprimanded in order not to set a precedent for others to tow the same line.

Dr. Botchweys camp has indicated that it would not be distracted by Mr. Rawlings comments for now and that it will respond at the appropriate time. And when it does, whether as the winning or losing team after the December 21st Congress, the ground, analysts warn, would be prepared for a party divided by leadership rancour than united by the loyalty of its followers.

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