Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Ghana: Rawlings family loses a battle but retains influence

Delegates attending the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) convention in Sunyani delivered a devastating blow to the political ambitions of, the former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings and her husband the former president and NDC founder Jerry John Rawlings.

In a straight two-horse race, Mrs Rawlings won just 90 votes (3.1 per cent), compared to the thumping 96.1 per cent (2771 votes) won by the NDC leader Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, who has been Ghana's president since January 2009, and has 18 months left to serve of his four-year mandate. It was the first time in the country's history that a sitting president had been challenged for the presidential nomination by a member of his own party.

Why Mills won

Despite the apparent support of her husband and family, Nana Rawlings' bid appears to have been badly miss-timed. Many assume that the NDC cannot win the December 2012 election unless Mr Rawlings actively campaigns for President Mills' re-election. The body language of the former first couple as they left Sunyani's Coronation Park on Saturday night suggests that they are unlikely to support Mills and may even campaign against his in the run-up to 2012.

The biggest fear of many grassroots party supporters – that the couple will form a new party – is unlikely to happen given the Mills camp's solid grip over the party machinery. But that fear also boosted the pro-Mills vote because few NDC supporters would welcome another eight year spell in the opposition wilderness.

For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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