Panafrican News Agency

Overwhelming victory of Ghana's president in party's primaries dominates media

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – The overwhelming endorsement of Ghana's President John Evans Atta Mills in the primaries of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) at the weekend to end an acrimonious battle with former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings dominated newspapers this week.

President Mills polled 96.9 per cent of the votes of delegates, leaving Nana Konadu, who was supported by her husband and party founder, former President Jerry John Rawlings, with a mere 3.1%.

The charismatic Rawlings and his wife, who was First Lady for 19 years, ignored pleas from the party rank and file not to contest against the sitting president, as the rift between the two sides in a bitter power struggle raged on. The result was the humiliating defeat the delegates handed the former First Family.

The state-owned Ghanaian Times had the headline “Landslide for Mills”. It said with a landslide victory of 96.9%, President Mills at the weekend obtained the mandate of the NDC for his bid for a second term of office, promising to help in solving the problems that threatened the progress of the party.

Another headline of the Times read “The contest has reinvigorated us”. The story quoted Dr. Kwabena Adjei, chairman of the NDC, as saying “the party is more invigorated and battle ready” for the 2012 elections after the congress held in Sunyani in the Bring Ahafo Region.

He told delegates after the declaration of President Mills as winner that the contest, although unprecedented in the nation's politics, had helped to re-energise the party.

The headline of the state-owned Graphic read “Victory for All” with the story saying President Mills last Saturday received an overwhelming endorsement to lead the NDC to the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.

He declared immediately after being proclaimed winner that his victory was not for any particular person or group, but for the entire party.

He said real losers were the opponents of the party who had wished and hoped that the congress would be an gruelling exercise characterised by violence and disunity.

The independent paper, Public Agenda, had the headline “NDC breaks JJ's (Jerry John Rawlings') aura”.

It said delegates of the party voted overwhelmingly in Sunyani for President Mills to shatter the presidential dreams of Nana Konadu, wife of the party founder.

The pro-government New Palaver said contrary to doomsday prophets, who predicted chaos, mayhem and Armageddon, the just ended congress of the party turned out to be decent, peaceful and very interesting.

“The NDC will continue to surprise its opponents, who are yet to come to terms with the reality that the party was able to stand the test of the moment,” it said.

The pro-opposition Chronicle said “JJ boycotts Mills' victory speech”. It said the unceremonious departure of the founder of the party and his wife from the NDC Congress grounds, shortly after the result of the party’s presidential primary were announced on Saturday, has set political observers interpreting it as the pair’s ‘symbolic exit’ from the NDC, even if they would not verbally resign publicly.

The ex-president and his wife walked out of the congress grounds immediately after congratulating President Mills as the winner.

Another pro-opposition newspaper, Daily Guide, writing under the headline “Massacre in Sunyani - NDC shows red card” said delegates of the NDC last Saturday inflicted an electoral massacre on the Rawlingses in an electrified atmosphere in Sunyani where the stakes were extraordinarily high.

“The delegates virtually swept away the ego of the almighty Rawlingses with a flick of their fingers, with a tsunami-sweeping vote in favour of President Atta Mills.

It said signs of what was in store for Nana Konadu were visible when delegates and others jeered at the one-time First Lady as she commenced to read her speech.

Other headlines were Dispatch – (President Mills) Time to unify the NDC; Democrat - Fear grips NPP as Mills thrashes Konadu; Insight - It is all over as Nana Konadu establishes her smoothness level; New Palaver - Emphatic win for President Mills.

Nana Konadu's camp have subsequently condemned the organisation of the congress, saying delegates were intimidated and coerced. There were also speculations that the Rawlingses would leave the party.

But an eagerly awaited press conference by Konadu turned out to be a disappointment.

The Graphic's headline read, “No question at Nana Konadu's press confab” with the story saying that over 100 reporters were disappointed when Mr. Numburr Derrick, coordinator of the Nana Konadu team, announced that there would be no questions. True to the declaration, none of them answered a single question.

“Not even Nana Konadu, who entered and left the venue only dancing with other supporters, uttered a word to the disappointment of the eager reporters.”

The Times said “Konadu swerves media – No Boom”. It said scores of journalists and other media practitioners who thronged the 31st December Women's Movement on Wednesday to listen to Nana Konadu in her much publicised news conference left the function disappointed.

Contrary to high expectations that the former First Lady would release a ”bombshell” after her landslide defeat to Mills, she swerved everybody, leaving the platform to the campaign coordinator to comment on “some irregularities” during the congress.

But the anger of Rawlings at the result continued to show throughout the week.

Daily Guide had the headline, “I won't follow cowards to war – JJ”. It said former president Rawlings had dashed the hopes of members of the NDC who had asked him to help President Mills to win a second term.

He was reported to have told a group of party members that he was not prepared to follow “cowards to war” since they would leave him to die alone on the battlefield.

“He said he wasn't leaving the NDC but made an emphatic statement that he wasn't going to campaign for President Mills and that he will not fight or follow cowards because if you follow cowards to war, you will end up fighting alone,” Ernest Brogya Gyamfi, a Rawlings loyalist said.

The Daily Guide also had the headline “Rawlings needs time to heal his 'wounds'”. It said Dr. Kwabena Adjei, the national chairman of the NDC, reacting to concerns as to how to reconcile differences with founder Jerry Rawlings, said “it is too early for people to expect anything from the Rawlingses on the campaign trail and that they should be given time to heal from the Sunyani event.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 16July2011