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Ghana: Akufo-Addo leads the charge for 2012

Posted on Friday, 8 October 2010 12:50

Two years ahead of the next election, Ghana’s opposition National Patriotic Party has chosen its candidate.

It is two years until the next national election in Ghana and party candidatures are already being sewn up. In August, former foreign minister Nana Akufo-Addo was elected presidential candidate of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) for 2012 with a resounding 78% of the vote. This is a far stronger endorsement than before, Akufo-Addo having managed to sideline those in the party who were less than full-throated in their support such as former President John Kufuor.Akufo-Addo’s win over Kufuor’s protégé, Alan Kyerematen, was a victory of another sort, as many more NPP members were allowed to vote.

One might expect the NPP to be in disarray following its election defeat in 2008. In the years just before the election, the NPP government cut a series of murky deals, such as the rushed privatisation of Ghana Telecom and the sale of exploration rights and subsequent tax arrangements granted to oil company Kosmos. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has tried on six occasions to take the NPP to court, but it has failed each time. NDC backbenchers now question the strength of Attorney General Betty Mould Iddrisu.

There is another reason the NPP is bearing up: as a party of lawyers, they make formidable opposition, with one commentator describing the four leading opposition MPs as “rotweillers”. Akufo-Addo has played his part, too. At the close of parliament on 29 July, he loudly protested the government’s decision to give MPs just one hour to read the Korean-backed $1.5bn STX deal for security forces housing.

Akufo-Addo has also railed at the lack of vision and drive in drafting Ghana’s oil legislation. A bill on oil revenue management has been on the table for the past three years. The NDC says it is in consultation, though it is unclear with whom. The government’s halting of the Kosmos sale to ExxonMobil was initially thought to have been victory at last for President John Atta Mills, though the endgame is unclear. Much will depend on whether the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation is able to buy the asset and play a central role in the second phase of the country’s oil development.

This article was first published in the October-November edition of The Africa Report.

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