Ghana: Former First Lady could be in presidential raceBy FRANCIS KOKUTSE in Accra | Wednesday, June 6 2012 at 13:59
Ghana’s former Ppresident Jerry John Rawlings has given the first hint that his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, might enter the presidential race in December.
It is not clear whether the former First Lady would do so as an independent candidate or form a new party.
Speculation on her candidacy has been ongoing, but she has consistently refused to confirm or deny it.
However, on June 3, her husband told a rally at Aflao on the country’s eastern border with Togo that Nana Agyeman “must be given the chance to rescue the country from the current leadership crisis.”
He pleaded with the people to consider giving her the needed support to rule.
Not too long ago, Nana Agyeman was rejected by delegates of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) when she took on party leader President John Evans Mills.
After getting only three per cent of the votes, it was assumed she would give up her leadership ambition.
Mr Rawlings open fronting of his wife finally pits him directly against President Mills even as many NDC members grumble that the ex-president is working against the interests of the party he himself founded and the man he handpicked as successor.
Everybody knows this fight is not just between Mrs Rawlings and the president, but between the ex-president and the incumbent one.
If Mr Rawlings fails in his mission in the December elections, it just could be the final nail in the coffin of his post-presidency political career.
Mr Rawlings claims “the current crop of NDC leaders are taking the party in a different direction away from the principles and values on which the party was founded.” He has never been quite clear on what that means.
Still, he has ranted that the party leaders were “traitors” plotting to destroy the party and strengthen the Convention People's Party (CPP), the party founded by the country’s first president, Kwame Nkurumah.
Since assuming office, President Mills has taken steps to immortalise the name of Nkurumah. In 2010, the country spent the whole year celebrating the centenary anniversary of the Osagyefo’s birth. In addition, September 24 is now designated a public holiday to mark his birthday.
Even the oil rig from where Ghanaian oil is produced at the Cape Three Points has been named after Nkurumah.
What is interesting about the rebirth of Nkurumah in the country is that the CPP is also contesting the election and no one is sure if the NDC is planning a merger.
Mr Rawlings protests that “the NDC has run itself into a ditch and cannot beat their opponents NPP in the upcoming elections if the ideals of the June 4 uprisings have been abandoned.”
June 4 was the date that the then a junior officer burst onto the country’s political scene through a coup and preached “probity and accountability.”
Reactions to Mr Rawlings’ latest activities have been swift. Deputy Information minister Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa said that “everybody is tired of Rawlings and his unnecessary distractions and criticisms of the government.”
“I get the impression that everybody is fed up with what is going on,” he added.
For the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), the intra-NDC infighting is just what the ruling party deserves.
According to NPP communications director Nana Akomea, the NDC should not be complaining about Mr Rawlings’ ranting, noting that when the NPP used to complain about Rawlings outbursts against former President John Kufuor, “NDC activists like Okudzeto-Ablakwa at the time told us we could not gag him.”
There had been an attempt by some of Aflao’s local chiefs to stop the rally where Mr Rawlings spoke, and many people suspected a government hand.
The next day was June 4, the day commemorating the 1979 Rawlings’ coup, and up came reports of some people in Aflao town signing a letter saying that the day's commemoration could not be held.
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