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Posted on Thursday, 09 January 2014 16:36

Ghana's NPP prepares for the 2016 presidential race

By Bilie Adwoa McTernan in Accra

Ten hopefuls could compete to be the party's candidate in the upcoming elections as Nana Akufo-Addo contemplates his political future.

 

After losing the December 2012 elections and a bid to overturn the result in the Supreme Court, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has its sights set on the 2016 elections.

Under its rules, the party must hold its national delegates conference, which elects the party's national chairman, general secretary and presidential candidate, by December 2014.

The big question is whether the veteran campaigner Nana Akufo-Addo will run for the presidential nomination again.

That would mean he would be the party's candidate for the third time running in 2016.

There are precedents for this in Ghana.

The late John Atta Mills of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) lost two elections before winning the presidency in 2008.

Akufo-Addo declined to make any quick announcement about his polit- ical plans after the Supreme Court dis- missed the NPP's election petition in August.

While Akufo-Addo, 69, took a break from the spotlight, nine contenders for the NPP leadership came out of the woodwork.

The most prominent is Alan 'Cash' Kyerematen, 58, who at one time was an ambassador to Washington, as well as the minister of trade and industry under former President John Kufuor.

Kyerematen ran for the position of party flag bearer in 2006 and 2010, losing to Akufo-Addo both times.

In the 2010 primaries, in which the party greatly expanded the number of voting delegates and reduced the opportunities for vote buying, Kyerematen took just 20% of the vote.

There is no doubting Kyerematen's ambition: although working as a trade adviser to the United Nations in Addis Ababa, he regularly attended the Supreme Court hearings for the NPP's petition.

Kyerematen has the backing of Kufuor and his business friends, together with a more flamboyant style than Akufo-Addo's, so some calculate that he would give the NDC a tougher challenge in 2016.

Others see Kyerematen as a light- weight and argue that his candidacy would strengthen the perception that the NPP is an Ashanti party.

NPP managers have to promote the party's national cre- dentials if they are to take on the NDC in the north, east and west.

Akufo-Addo is likely to announce in November whether he will run again.

If he does not, his running mate in the 2012 elections, Mahamudu Bawumia, will aim for the presidency.

Bawumia, a technocrat and ex-central banker from the north, has yet to establish himself as a strong national figure.

Other contenders include Daniel Botwe, minority chief whip in parliament, and Boakye Agyarko, who was Akufo-Addo's campaign manager in 2012.

The momentum is behind Akufo-Addo running again, trading on his experience, public profile and oratorical style.

His supporters are preparing a strong campaign to carry him over the line once more. ●

 



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