The race is on to elect the next chairman of the New Patriotic Party in the Ashanti Region after F F Anto, the incumbent, pulled out of the contest yesterday, information reaching The Statesman indicates. Mr Anto is widely seen as a protégé of Yaw Osafo Maafo, Minister for Education and Sports. The race is now between Yaw Amankwah, who contested in 2003 but lost to Mr Anto, and George Ayisi Boateng, a leading member of the party in the region as they go into tomorrow's election.
With the Brong Ahafo Region having their elections today, and the Greater Accra Region holding theirs on Sunday, the stage is now set for the holding of a National Delegates Conference, tentatively on December 17.
However, there are strong arguments for the holding of the Conference on December 10. Proponents of a Conference on December 17 argue that an earlier conference would lead to problems with accommodation, since students at the University of Ghana, the venue for the event, would still be in school. Opponents argue, however, that since the delegates are bussed in and out of the Conference, the accommodation argument does not come in. In any case, they are usually resourced enough to make arrangements for accommodation if the need arises. Also, there is a strong argument against holding the Conference too close to the date for the National Democratic Congress's National Delegates Congress, especially in light of security concerns about the NDC congress (see Monday's edition of The Statesman).
Reports reaching The Statesman indicate there has been a lot of horse trading among the contestants in the Ashanti Region contest, with a few pledging to step down at the final minute in tomorrow's election.
Osei Assibey Antwi, incumbent First Vice Chairman, is poised to retain his seat even though Nana Owusu Ansah has his eyes set on becoming a regional executive. Nana Bobie Ansah, incumbent Second Vice Chairman, will compete against Osefredu Asubonteng, a lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and Nana Wiafe Ababio.
Sam Cudjoe, the incumbent Secretary, faces stiff competition from Victor Owusu, member of the Regional Publicity Committee, and Kwaku Kwarteng, but is expected to run away with a slim majority. Incumbent Regional Organiser Muhammed Abdallah will have to dig deep to see off the challenge of Kwabena Agyei, popularly known as Bambanta.
The only executive member so far without a challenger is Kwaku Atiemo, Treasurer.
Four people, Kennedy Kankam, Fiifi Eshun, Alfred Owusu and Nana Boateng are contesting the position of the Regional Youth Organiser.
Georgina Osei-Tutu and Mary Brobbey would contest the position of Women's Organiser.
In a related development, the Upper West branch of the NPP Wednesday elected Abubakari Abdul Rahman, a Wa-based Businessman, as the new Regional Chairman, Ghana News Agency reports.
He polled 42 of 58 votes to beat Abdul Aziz Mohammed, his sole opponent, to replace Abudulai Issahaque former Regional chairman, who did not contest any position.
Alhaji Rahman, popularly known as Alhaji Short, the new chairman, pledged to revive the party in the region to increase its parliamentary seats in 2008.