Today in Ghana, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), an opposition party, will open nominations for aspiring presidential candidates to lead the party in the 2008 general elections. The nomination period is expected to end December 2nd. The party will choose its presidential candidate December 16th during the party congress. Those holding executive positions who wish to support other candidates or run as candidates themselves must resign their positions by September 15th, a deadline as set by the party. Nomination forms are being sold at two million cedis, while aspiring candidates are expected to pay a non-refundable deposit of one hundred million cedis (about $218).

To date, two-time presidential candidate Professor Atta Mills, business magnate Eddie Annan, and a former presidential adviser, Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, have announced their intentions to campaign for the NDC?s presidential slot. Meanwhile, the chief executive of Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, says he will announce his intention for the NDC presidential slot by the end of September.

The general secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu-Nketia,  spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about today?s nominations.

?According to the NDC constitution, we need to elect our flag bearer two clear years, that is 24 calendar months before the presidential elections. So recalling from the fact that the presidential elections are billed for early December 2008, then working backwards 24 months from December 2008 will put us at first or second week in December 2006. So that is the mandatory date for our next presidential primaries. And our guidelines have subsequently indicated that we need to open nominations 120 days before the congress date. And that falls on today.?

He explains the nomination process for presidential aspirants.

?They need to first pick a form from the general secretary?s office; the cost of the form is two million cedis (about $218). Now they will need to go round all the constituencies in Ghana and they need to pick signatures from at least two strong party members who are of good standing to endorse their nomination before it can be accepted. The closing date for the submission of the nomination is [the] 2nd [of] December this year ? that is, two clear weeks from the congress date ? so that we can print the ballot papers and all that. We also request people who are holding executive positions within the party who have shown interest in contesting the elections to step down from those positions from 15th of September. So that they can have free access to prosecute their campaigns and then the party structure will not be committed at any level in support of any particular candidate.?

Asiedu-Nketia said he is not against the formation of political alliances with other political parties but is confident the NDC will win Ghana?s next elections. ?I think that, every opposition party needs to do whatever it takes to bring it to power. We are confident that NDC on our own can win the next elections. But at the same time we think that no amount of votes will be excessive for us. So if we can get people to get into electoral alliances with us so that out victory will be more resounding, so much the better. But we are not counting so much on the strength of other parties. We are planning to win the elections by ourselves, so be it.?

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