CPP/PNC to hold merger congress
The Statesman can reveal that the two leaders of the two Nkrumaist parties have agreed on a maiden conference to vote on the new constitution for the merged party and elect its new national executives.
The date, yet to be put before their National Executive Committees, is to fixed for Tuesday March 7, however.
With the election of new executives for the merged entity on the agenda, the merger conference makes redundant calls by a section of the Convention People's Party for the entire national executive of the party to resign before the end of their constitutional term in 2007.
Talks about a merger between the two Nkrumaist parties had been on the cards for a long time, and gained momentum after the abysmal performance of the two parties in the December 2004 general election.
However, officials of the two parties cold not agree on a number of important issues. What has been agreed is that the name of the new party shall be the Convention People's Party.
Other issues, such as whether the cockerel should be on top of the coconut or under the shadow of coconut tree is to be left to the joint national delegates of the two parties to agree on at the maiden national congress of the merged party.
The initial proposal was for the two parties to put the results of the progressive unity talks to their respective national party congresses. But, the two parties are broke. Indeed, finding money to organise its national workshop at Kumasi last week was, “fraught with numerous difficulties,” says Dr Delle about the CPP.
Looking forward to the merger, he posed the question: “In the scenario, what will be the wisdom of the CPP and PNC before the merger organising separately to put functionaries into executive positions?”
He offered answers: “It would surely mean a waste of resources very scarce to the two parties.”
The proposed March united national congress should also silent the disgruntled voices in the camps, because while there are disagreements here and there, all genuine Nkrumaists appear unanimous on the need to unite.
This move, our sources say, is aimed to bring to an end the not-so substantial differences that have protracted the unity talks, and speed up the unification process in time for a presidential candidate to be elected later in the year. The current round of unity talks started in March 2005 and included the DPP and GCPP, parties that exist only in name and in the personalities of eccentric leaders. The draft constitution for the Nkrumaist unity, prepared in May 2005, agreed on three major sticking points. Besides the new party maintaining the CPP name, the party was to adopt the symbol of the People's National Convention, the Coconut Tree. This has, however, not gone down well with CPP members, who are limiting their compromise to having the coconut tree and the cockerel as a twinned-symbol for the new CPP.
The party slogan was to symbolise this unity by combining the CPP's 'Forward Ever” with “Honest Service” of the PNC.
It has also come to light that two of the three CPP executive members delegated to lead the unity talks ended up acting as major stumbling blocks. General Secretray Nii Noi Dowuono, First National Vice Chairperson ARaba Bentsi-Enchil, and Mike Eghan who recently resigned his position as Second Vice Chairperson, returned to their party with the agreement to adopt the CPP name and the Coconut Tree symbol for the merged party. “Is it no surprise, comrades, that when on the 7th April, 2005, the Central Committee met to receive the report from the said 3-member delegation, and the agreement was put to vote, 15 members voted for the agreement and of the five members who voted against it included two of the said three-member delegation, namely Professor Nii Noi Dowunoo and Mike Eghan?” This was how Dr Delle put it to his party last week.
The two leaders of the two parties, Dr Delle and Dr Mahama, say they are fed-up with the gridlock. So they are now throwing the matter to the forum of joint delegates from the two parties to vote on.
After agreeing on this identity matter, the merger conference will be asked to vote on the draft constitution. This document will re-enforce the Nkrumaists' commitment to “social justice and equality as the basis for a united, productive and self-reliant society at home and internationally.” Next on the agenda is the voting for new national officers for the new CPP. The positions likely to be voted on are National Chairperson, Vice Chairpersons, General Secretary, National Organisational Secretary, and National Treasurer. Where there are more than two candidates and no candidate secures more than 50 percent, the two candidates with the highest number of votes will participate in a run-off election.
The race should now be on for those who believe they can run the CPP better to make their case with the existing delegates of the two parties for the proposed March national congress.
But, the most vociferous splinter groups of the CPP, the Parliamentary Action Group and the Patriots, are seen to be very light on the ground. Dr Delle describes them as “perpetual pessimists who have for all these years sat on the fence and are now waxing eloquent in public acrimony over lack of organisational activity to quench their thirst for woe-singing.” The thinking of the two leaders of the CPP and PNC is that, once the national officers are elected, the new executives can then organise the elections of subordinate executives at the regional, constituency and polling station levels. The decision to put the merger matter before a joint delegation of both parties may be challenged.
One constitutional issue that may arise if the merger does not seek the approval of both parties according to their respective constitutions is likely to be the status of the five parliamentarians of the two parties. While the three CPP MPs may find it easier to argue that they are still CPP MPs, the same refuge may not be readily available for the two PNC MPs.
This can call for by-elections, as the Constitution is clear that an MP cannot change parties in the course of a parliament. An alternative may be to take the matter to the Supreme Court for proper interpretation since once the two parties have democratically agreed on the merger, it may be difficult to argue that the mischief that the constitutional provision was set to remedy (cross-carpeting) has been breached here.
Moreover, once the merger is achieved through the procedures laid down by both parties' constitutions, then Article 97(2) of the Constitution is categorical that a merger does not change the status of the MPs involved.
Last Thursday at Kumasi, Dr Delle told CPP members: “If the CPP and PNC eventually merge into one party, then the merger will mean members of the twi parties meshing and interlacing into one composite membership of one party.” Giving a hint on the curtailment of his term for the sake of the merger, he continued: “In the event, elections for all positions from the cell to the polling station level and up to the regional and to the national level would be undertaken by the composite membership under the directives and supervision of one national leadership.”