THE DRAMA that unfolded at the New Patriotic Party headquarters in Accra yesterday when party members demonstrated to protest against what they termed an imposition of candidates on them could only be described as nasty. The party, which has been reeling under intense pressure from aspiring parliamentary candidates and supporters to refrain from undue interference in the choice of candidates by the constituencies, witnessed yet another violent demonstration, this time by members of the Salaga constituency branch in the Northern Region.
Over 200 polling station chairmen and constituency executives, who besieged the party's offices, heckled officials, demanding the release of forms for the constituency primary to enable them to elect their parliamentary candidate for the December elections.
Armed police were called in to disperse the demonstrators before they could present their grievances to the party executives.
While some of the demonstrators ran helter-skelter others attempted to resist the police and indicated their intention to stay at the party headquarters until they were issued the forms to conduct their primary.
One demonstrator was injured in the melee and was given first aid by party officials. It was not certain whether any arrests were made.
The demonstrators said they were opposed to imposition of the sitting Independent MP, Mr. Boniface Saddique, who is deputy Minister of Tourism, without the primary being held.
“He went as an Independent candidate because the NDC did not allow him to contest in the primaries. We all know that Boniface is an NDC man and if he wants to contest on the ticket of NPP, he should file his nominations to contest,” one demonstrator said.
According to the demonstrators, if the National Executives failed to release the forms and ensure that the primary was conducted, “Salaga will burn to ashes” and whatever happened to the constituency was none of their business.
In their petition to the party executives, the demonstrators said: “It is interesting to know that the current MP decided to go Independent because his former party, NDC, imposed a candidate on the people. It was the imposition that led the people to vote against the NDC.
“It is therefore ironical that he is supporting and sponsoring his imposition on the NPP instead of calling for democratic election. If we don't receive the forms, we shall advise ourselves in the language you (national executive) understand, and should there be any unfortunate occurrences in Salaga constituency, the national and regional executives of the party should be held responsible.”
Alhaji Saani Iddrisu, the constituency chairman, Ishahu Gariba, second vice chairman, Drama A.W Baba, secretary, Abubakari Abdul-Mumuni, assistant secretary and Tanimu Meisuna, youth organizer jointly signed the petition.
Other signatories were Sulemana Ibrahim, organizer, Issahaku Seidu, financial secretary, Haruna Salifu, treasurer and Ayi Mariam, women's organizer.
The constituency secretary, Drama Baba, told The Chronicle that the national executives had resolved that the party would not hold any primary and that they would support the incumbent MP, a position they considered unconstitutional.
“This is a violation of the party's constitution and we are vehemently opposed to that”, he said, adding that they had exhausted all avenues to seek redress to the matter but the party had turned deaf ears to their request.
“This is the fifth time we are here. We are saying that no imposition of candidates will be allowed in our constituency. Our ultimate goal is the primary and if the party fails and something happens the executives will be held responsible,” he warned. It took the police over 20 minutes to control the protesters and calm tempers before taking their representatives into the party's office while others were asked to stay outside the premises under tight police guard.
Two other groups from Ablekuma South and Tano South constituencies later came with similar complaints amid shouting and singing.
All efforts by the national organizer, Mr. Lord Commey, to calm the protestors proved futile until the police were called in.