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11.05.2006 General News

NDC 3-way Split

By Statesman
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The National Democratic Congress has been off the headlines in recent weeks. But, this has not stopped the cracks from deepening, even if in pseudo-silence. With the elections of a flagbearer a little over six months ago, old alliances are beginning to break up and new alliances being brokered.

At the bottom of this is founder Jerry John Rawlings' losing confidence in the man he kept faith in since 1996, John Evans Atta Mills. But Prof Mills has failed in three attempts to become the President of the Republic.

He first lost on December 7 2000, again failing in the rerun of that election on December 29 2000. In December 2004 he suffered a hat-trick of defeats against the same main challenger, John Agyekum Kufuor.

Now sources from the house of the former President say that he wants a challenger with the fire to smoke the New Patriotic Party out of the Castle. Not only is Prof Mills seen as a loser, he is also a 'bad' loser in the eyes of his former boss, because he accepts defeat without a fight.

The pending split between Prof Mills and Mr Rawlings poses the threat of a fundamental fracture at the centre of the Rawlings factor. This is because the original core of the Mills support came from Rawlings loyalists.

But, while, this split may be healed after a flagbearer has been elected, a more permanent break is looming with Yao Obed Asamoah's Democratic Freedom Party set to be launched by the end of this month (see Friday's edition for an insight into Obed's game plan).

Unlike the National Reform Party which fleetingly flattered but floundered and foundered, Obed's DFP has, over the last five months sown an elaborate network labyrinth of supporters predominantly from the NDC.

Even earlier attempts by Mr Rawlings to infiltrate the DFP front was detected and beaten back. Mr Rawlings, always the schemer, threw several people at Obed, who thought they were all as aggrieved as was the defeated national chairman. But, the idea was to get them to resign from the DFP en bloc shortly after the party was launched.

Checks made by this paper show that the DFP has collected registration forms from the Electoral Commission and has acquired the two-thirds representation in all districts required to make a national party.

A survey made by our researchers show that Dr Obed Asamoah's party is aiming to draw from about 30 percent of the Minority membership in Parliament. While an even larger number are known to sympathise with their former chairman, those who are willing to step out from the cover of the umbrella would only do so at a time so close to the next general elections that a by-election would be constitutionally impossible. This could mean campaigning under the guise of the NDC until three months before the parliamentary race.

Across the nationwide support base of the NDC, Dr Obed Asamoah is aiming to slice 30 percent off to his party. Prof Mills, despite the last three brawling he has received, has so grown in stature that he currently counts on another 40 percent of NDC supporters. This leaves another 30 percent, half of them can be expected to fly or sink with their founder, with the remaining 15 percent blowing whichever way the tide flows to keep the peace and unity of so far the only viable challenge to NPP dominance.

The emergence of Eddie Annan is likely to disturb the old order. He is said to at least enjoy the blessing – albeit non-committal – of his trusted business associate, Mr Rawlings and his wife. Moves are under way to test the marketability of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings as Mr Annan's running mate. While it is still difficult to read the game plan of the former first couple, what is quite clear is that the law professor has lost favour with them. On the Sunday before the Tamale Central by-election, Mr Rawlings could not hide his anger with his former Vice President at the Tamale residence of Ibrahim Adams. He accused Prof Mills of failing to organise the party and look for funds to run the 2008 race.

Mr Rawlings similarly steamed into his party chairman, accusing Kwabena Adjei of having “no cash and no constituency.”

This outburst, however, may have been precipitated by the fact that Dr Adjei chose to lodge in Tamale with Alhaji Sumani, a known Obed loyalist. Prof Mills is now heavily relying on Kojo Tsikata for funds. But, the former National Security Advisor, who controls the strong cadre core of the NDC, is said to have one foot in Obed's yet-to-be-launched party.

Prof Mills is now facing a fierce challenge from his old pal and financier, Mr Annan.

But, both the NDC and their gloom wishers may take a cue from Dan Botwe's advice at the weekend that the NPP cannot count on an NDC split; when push comes to shove party members would find the resolve to unite and attack the common enemy.