Koforidua, Dec. 24, GNA - The Sixth National Delegates Congress of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which ended at Koforidua on Friday with major leadership changes seemed to have brought the desired relief to most of its rank and file. With the voluptuous jubilations that greeted the shattering defeat of its National Chairman, Dr Obed Yao Asamoah by Dr Kwabena Adjei with 1,158 votes to 208 and the thrashing of Mr Bede Ziedeng by Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, alias General Mosquito with 1,068 to 188 votes, for the vacant General Secretary post, from the delegates and several hundreds of observers at the congress summed up their relish.
The pre-congress animosity between the so-called Rawlings and Asamoah factions reached a crescendo when a Deputy Electoral Commissioner, David Adeenze Kangah, announced the results of the General Secretary and Chairman elections, which were counted simultaneously. The reconciliatory opening speech of Dr Asamoah appeared to have gone unheeded. He had requested that the disunity in the Party be resolved before the elections, adding; "disagreements were bound to occur in the Party but these should not degenerate into war". He asked the delegates to learn from their mistakes and be united since that was the only way to strengthen the capacity of the Party to recapture power in the 2008 Elections.
Former President Jerry John Rawlings alluded to the utterances of Dr Asamoah, former Finance Minister, Dr Kwesi Botachway and the party's Former Women's Organiser, Ms Frances Assiam about him and said he would "pray for their souls for having betrayed the cause of the NDC and falling by the roadside". He reminded the delegates that the NDC had values of truth and justice that must keep members together at all times.
Two-time Presidential Candidate of the Party, Professor John Evans Atta Mills committed himself to peace in the country and unity in the Party but claimed that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) rigged Election 2004. He told the diplomatic community; "if the NPP tires to use armed men to remove ballot boxes in the 2008 general election just as it did to rig the 2004 Elections, the Party (NPP) will live to regret."
"Our patience and tolerance should not be taken for granted but there comes a time in a man's life when he should fight to defend himself," he stated, and told the delegates to avoid animosity and acrimony after the elections of the Executives. They should bury their differences and come together to fight for the common good of the Party.
The Minority Leader, Mr Alban Babgin urged the Party's followers to work to remove the NPP from power because it did not meet the expectations of the poor and had brought shame to the country. More than 1,600 delegates elected a 20-man National Executive Committee (NEC) from 48 contestants. Several hundreds of observers including northern dancing troupes and traders of the Party's paraphernalia brought some elixir to the dump sides of the Koforidua Municipality, a stronghold of the NPP. The scheduled two-day congress dragged on to almost three days because the elections lasted about 20 hours.
The Eastern Regional Secretary of NDC, Mr Anthony Gyampo, attributed the delay to the fact that the Party's constitution provided for candidates to file their papers only 12 hours before congress and this did not allow enough time for the Credentials Committee of the Congress to put things in order ahead of time. The constitution has since been amended to 72 hours before congress. He also explained that the voting pattern involved the voter having to identify the picture of candidates and writing out the number of one's choice against the picture on the ballot paper, saying the position for National Vice Chairman attracted 14 candidates from whom six were to be elected.
It was observed that some delegates, whose turn to vote came at midnight of Thursday, had to be woken from their sleep either in their seats in the conference hall of the EREDEC Hotel or fetched from outside, to go through the voting process in a drowsy mood. Mr Gyampo however, described the congress as a success as "it afforded the members the opportunity to express their democratic rights to choose their leadership of the Party". He Gyampo appealed to the vanquished to take their losses in good faith, citing Dr Asamoah and Ziedeng as people with considerable experience who the party would need in its efforts to recapture power in 2008.
The New Juaben South Constituency NDC Chairman, Mr Andrews A. Awuku said the large number of participants to the congress overwhelmed them, adding that all hotels and guesthouses as well as the dormitories of some second-cycle schools in Koforidua were booked. According to him, since they were expecting about 3,000 guests, some of the delegates had to be accommodated at the St Paul's Technical School, Kukurantumi, some 20 kilometres away, due to the shortage of places in Koforidua. Mr Awuku expressed his delight in the large number of candidates, who wanted to serve the Party, especially the young ones, at the national level, which he described as a good omen for the future of the Party "we all cherish to die for."