Ghana's former president Jerry Rawlings attends the inauguration ceremony of John Atta Mills at the independence square in Accra, January 7, 2009 (file photo)
Ghana's former president Jerry Rawlings attends the inauguration ceremony of John Atta Mills at the independence square in Accra, January 7, 2009 (file photo)

The chairman of Ghana’s opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) has denied reports that the party was formed solely to bring about the defeat of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the December 7 election.

Josiah Nii Armah Ayeh said the NDP does not pose an existential threat to the ruling party.

“The ruling National Democratic Congress has taken the view that the NDP is their mortal enemy. They behave as though we are an existential threat to them. We are not,” said Ayeh. “We have nothing untoward [and], we have nothing against them,” he added. “We simply want to have competitive politics.”

The NDP has chosen former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings as its presidential candidate for the December presidential vote.

Agyeman-Rawlings is wife of former president Jerry Rawlings, who is the founding father of the NDC. She resigned as vice chairperson of the ruling party to challenge the late president John Evans Atta-Mills in the NDC’s primary election in September of last year. She has now resigned from the NDC, opening the way for her to become the opposition’s presidential candidate.

Analysts say it appears the NDP leadership, which is largely composed of disgruntled members of the NDC, could help the biggest opposition group, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), defeat the ruling party in the December presidential voting.

The analysts say the former president and his wife persuaded unsatisfied NDC members to form the NDP and that this would somehow enable the former first couple to regain political power. Ayeh rejects the allegation.

“In fact you can say that the party was my brain child; the conception, the constitution and the cobbling together of various elements to make the party, was solely something that we did,” said Ayeh. “We thought that it would be to our advantage to bring the Rawlings’ in for what I call their gravitational effect because they pull people.”

Ayeh also denied reports that the NDP has teamed up with the opposition NPP to destroy the ruling party. This came after Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP’s presidential candidate, visited Rawlings at his residence.

“If they [the NDC] are going to lose, I don’t think that they should begin to assign reasons that tend to blame others,” said Ayeh.  

He said the NDP’s political clout could determine the outcome of the presidential vote.

“If the gravitational pull takes effect, then I believe that no party would win an outright majority in the first round. And then we will get a huge percentage that would carve into the votes of both parties and then we would be in there as kingmakers,” said Ayeh.

Some supporters of the ruling party have demanded that former President Rawlings resign as founding member of the NDC. They contend that Mr. Rawlings has compromised his status as founding father of the party.

Attorney Abraham Amalibah, a leading member of the NDC’s legal team, said Rawlings faces possible sanctions if he is found guilty of breaching the party’s constitution. The party constitution stipulates that members must be faithful and loyal to the NDC. The sanctions include being removed as founding father of the party, a reprimand, fine or suspension for a specific period of time.

Clottey interview with Josiah Nii Armah Ayeh, NDP chairman