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Ghana Opposition: Former First Lady Has Not Joined New Party

Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings (L), wife of Ghana's President Jerry John Rawlings, speaks with first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton during an official state dinner at the White House, February 24, 1999.
Ghana’s opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) has denied reports that former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings will represent the party in the December 7 general election.

“Nothing is concluded as yet,” said Josiah Nii Armah Ayeh, executive chairman of the NDP. “We’ve held a number of high-level meetings and I can assure you that there’s been no decision taken yet because Nana Konadu remains a member of the [ruling National Democratic Congress, NDC].”

Ayeh, however, admitted that senior officials of the party have intensified efforts to persuade Agyeman-Rawlings to join the NDP before the presidential, legislative and local elections.

"Approaches have been made to her and we are still hunting a number of other individuals as well,” said Ayeh. “I can tell you that she has not picked nomination forms and all that [the rumors you hear] are speculative. But I must admit that there are earnest efforts to try to rope her in.”

Agyeman-Rawlings is the wife of former president Jerry John Rawlings, who is the founding father of the ruling NDC. She resigned as vice chairperson of the NDC to challenge the late president Johan Evans Atta-Mills during the ruling party’s primaries in September last year. She did, however, remain a member of the NDC.

“Until we see her resignation or hear news of it, I will simply rule out the possibility that she is going to announce her candidature anytime soon,” said Ayeh.

The NDP is scheduled to hold its congress on October 6 to choose a presidential candidate to lead the party in the December vote.

Analysts say it appears the NDP leadership, which is largely composed of disgruntled members of the NDC, could undermine the chances of the ruling party to retain power in the December vote.

They contend that Mr. Rawlings could be put in an uncomfortable position if his wife accepts the nomination to represent the NDP as its presidential candidate. If that happens, the analysts say, Rawlings would either have to resign from the NDC to campaign for his wife or stay with the ruling party to campaign against her.

Ayeh denied his party poses a threat to the NDC’s quest to retain power in December.

“Some people see our party as an existential threat to the NDC, but we are not,” said Ayeh. “We are too matured and seasoned to go into politics simply for the sake of revenge. We are here simply because we want to drive Ghanaian democracy forward.”

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