Jul 27 2012
By Kamal Tayo Oropo (with agency report)
ASIDE from the smooth transition of power following the sudden death of President John Atta Mills, the fear of political crisis was further doused yesterday with the declaration of the newly sworn-in President John Dramani Mahama as the leader of Ghana’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The move could boost Mahama’s chances of becoming the party’s candidate in a presidential election later this year.
Besides, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, of the Economic Community of West Africa State (ECOWAS), Mrs. Salamatu
Suleiman, has called on regional defence chiefs to redouble efforts at ensuring enduring peace and security in the region.
NDC Deputy General Secretary George Lawson said the party confirmed Mahama’s leadership at a meeting on Wednesday, in line with the bylaws of the party’s constitution.
“The meeting unanimously confirmed His Excellency President John Mahama as the party’s new leader. It was a smooth process,” Lawson told Reuters yesterday.
There had been concerns that uncertainty following Mills’ death and the prospect of a possible internal struggle within the ruling party could unsettle the political outlook.
One potential challenger is seen as Nana Konadu, wife of former president Jerry Rawlings, whom Mills crushed in a divisive party primary.
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Wednesday, former President Rawlings appeared to lay bare some of the existing divisions, claiming that health problems had affected Mills’ performance and criticised him for not attending to them better.
The NDC was due to hold another meeting yesterday to hammer out a process for electing a candidate to run against the opposition New Patriotic Party’s Nana Akufo-Addo in what is expected to be a tight race.
A domestic analyst and party officials said Mahama’s new position as leader of the party, a post previously held by Mills, would help clear the path to nomination as its candidate.
“We don’t think there will be any contest. It’s going to be President Mahama,” one key NDC leader told Reuters, asking not to be named.
Analyst Emmanuel Akwetey of the Accra-based Institute of Democratic Governance said the fact that Mahama would enter the competition as Ghana’s sitting president would also work in his favour.
“I think it’s a done deal,” Akwetey said.
Ahead of Mills’ death, most analysts had expected a year of election spending testing Ghana’s reputation for improved economic management. The government last week sought parliament’s permission for extra spending.
Mahama is widely expected to maintain current policies in his caretaker role.
Speaking on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission at the opening of an emergency meeting of the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS) on Mali in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on Wednesday, Suleiman, according to a statement, noted that while there were
relative calm in Mali and Guinea Bissau, security challenges remained in the region.
She cited the recent attack on a refugee camp in western Cote d’Ivoire that resulted in loss of lives and expressed the commission’s sympathies to the government and people of the country over the incident.
Suleiman also updated the gathering on the situation in Guinea Bissau, where police units from Nigeria and Burkina Faso have been deployed following the departure of Angolan forces, preparatory to the implementation of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Guinea Bissau authorities and the ECOWAS Commission.
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