Accra, Ghana (PANA) - For months, newspapers and political commentators highlighted moves by Ghana’s former President Jerry John Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu, to form and new political party, but the stories were flatly denied by their associates.
Now, the loosely-kept secret has come into the open with the formal announcement by aides of the former first family that, indeed, they have broken away from the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), although their names are not among the founding members of the new party, called National Democratic Party (NDP).
News of the new party, arguments between the Electoral Commission (EC) and the four main political parties over the holding of two by-elections using the old voters’ register and the clamp down on foreigners in the retail trade were some of the major stories highlighted by the newspapers in Ghana this week.
“Rawlings party finally here”, was the headline of the state-owned daily Graphic.
The story said after many months of speculations and denials, it is now certain that a new party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), which from all indications has the backing of the Rawlingses, has been formed.
Some of the leading members of the new party presented the party’s application to the Electoral Commission in Accra on Wednesday for registration as a fully-fledged political entity to contest the 2012 December and future elections.
A former General Secretary of the NDC, Dr. Josiah Ayeh, is the interim National Chairman while Dr. Mamboa Rockon is the interim General Secretary.
The state-owned Ghanaian Times had the headline “Nana Konadu forms own party”.
The story said the Electoral Commission has confirmed that it has received documents from a delegation of a proposed new party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), and is assessing its colours and symbol to ensure they do not conflict with those of other parties.
The delegation included several associates of the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.
"This makes it no longer a rumour that former first lady Nana Konadu, together with other members of the NDC, has formed a new political party."
Mr. Kofi Adams, a spokesman for the former president, who is a member of the new party, initially denied the formation of the party but subsequently admitted the new party was proposed by a number of groups who have visited the office of the former president on several occasions to pledge allegiance to him.
The pro-opposition Daily Guide’s headline read “Panic over Konadu party”.
The story said the seat of government, the Osu Castle, was thrown into a state of shock on Thursday when news of the formation of a new political party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), by some of its disgruntled members was made public.
Its said sources at the Castle indicated that influential members of government made several calls to Dr. Aryeh in a bid to get him and his colleague founding members to rescind their decision.
"The yet-to-be launched NDP, linked to the Rawlingses, is gradually taking shape with the emergence of the names of some interim officers to steer its affairs," the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, the NDC says it will not comment on the supposed formation of the new political party.
The Propaganda Secretary of the NDC, Richard Quashiga, in a statement said the party would not comment until the Rawlingses, alleged to be behind the new party, speak publicly on the matter.
He has therefore advised members of the party who are commenting on the matter to be circumspect and admonished them to trumpet the achievements of the NDC.
On the brouhaha over the two by-elections, the Graphic had the headline “Three political parties sue Electoral Commission”.
It said three political parties have joined forces to sue the Electoral Commission on its decision to organize by-elections using the old voters’ register in both Wulensi in the Northern Region and Kwabre West in the Ashanti Region.
The suit was filed on behalf of the general secretaries of the NDC, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia, New Patriotic Party, Mr. Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, and the Convention People’s Party, Mr. Ivor Greenstreet.
It said although the People’s National Convention (PNC) was not party to the suit, its National Chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, said the party associates itself with it.
The three parties are asking the court to declare that the official posture and conduct of the EC to conduct by-elections in the two constituencies without the biometric register are illegal and arbitrary.
They are calling on the court to “further declare that in so far as there is no voters’ register, the EC should not conduct any elections in the realm”.
The Ghanaian Times headline was “Parties sue EC but Commission is adamant”.
It said the Electoral Commission will still go ahead to conduct the by-elections in the Wulensi and Kwabre West Constituencies in spite of a writ filed against it by four leading political parties.
The EC said it has already accepted nomination forms from aspiring candidates in the constituencies and will therefore conduct the by-elections.
“This is a constitutional requirement and so only a competent court of jurisdiction can stop the Commission from carrying out its responsibilities,” Hubert Akomea, Head of EC's Information Technology, said.
The EC said it will not use the newly-compiled biometric voters’ register because it is yet to be exhibited and cleaned up.
“Task force goes into action - Closes down shops of non-Ghanaians”, was the headline of the Graphic on the clampdown on foreign traders in retail business.
The story said more than 20 retail shops, purported to be owned by foreigners in and around the central business district of Accra, were on Tuesday closed down by the Inter-Agency Task Force of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The exercise was in response to a directive by the Ministry that all foreigners operating retail shops in the market should vacate before 25 June, 2012, because their retail activities were in violation of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Law which reserves small-scale retail businesses for Ghanaians.
The task force posted notices on the gates of the shops, part of which read, “The law enjoins all non-Ghanaians, including ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) citizens, who wish to engage in trading to comply with the following: To set up businesses outside places designated as markets, invest a minimum of
US$ 300,000 in cash or in kind, register with the GIPC, obtain immigration quota and employ at least 10 Ghanaians in the business.”
The exercise took place against the backdrop of moves by a delegation from the ECOWAS Parliament to intervene on the part of ECOWAS nationals.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 7July2012