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Politics of Thursday, 21 June 2007

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

NDC running mate: Betty Mould to partner Mills

The jostling among potential running mates to the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC’s) presidential candidate for the 2008 polls, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, continues but The Chronicle can reveal that the opposition party is now most likely to settle on a surprise candidate in the person of Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, wife of Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu.

Deep throat party sources disclosed to the paper that she currently stands tallest among all other aspirants for the party’s number two slot though the lobbying for Hon. John Dramani Mahama, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bole-Bamboi cannot be downplayed and he may still be the only person to, in the most unlikely situation, thwart the almost certain selection of Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu as Mills’ running mate.

Top members of the party at its Kokomlemle headquarters and other non-executive but influential figures are now split into two as far as the choice between the two is concerned, with each group lobbying strongly but with the pro- Mould-Iddrisu group seen as the one likely to carry the day. The new development throws out names of key contenders like Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, wife of party founder and former President, Jerry Rawlings; Mrs. Christine Amoako Nuamah, former Minister in the NDC regime; Hon. Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, Minority Leader in Parliament and Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, an influential Northern lawyer and running mate for Mills in the 2004 elections, who held the Kumbugu Parliamentary seat till the dissolution of the third parliament of the Fourth Republic.

The 54-year-old Betty Mould-Iddrisu holds a master of Law degree from the London School of Economics, a Bachelor of Law from the Ghana School of Law and an LLB from the University of Ghana.

She currently works with the Legal and Constitutional affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat as the Chief Legal Advisor and in-house Counsel to the Commonwealth Secretary-General and the Secretariat.

She worked with Ghana’s Ministry of Justice from 1978 until her appointment at the Commonwealth Secretariat in November 2003. At the Justice Ministry, she headed the Industrial Property Law Division and was later appointed Ghana’s Copyright Administrator before leaving for the Commonwealth job, after serving as Head of the Ministry’s International Law Division.

A co-founder of the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) in 1999, Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu chaired the group till 2003, during which period she chaired also, both the Ghanaian and African Regional groupings of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA).

Party sources revealed to the paper that Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu’s surprise inroad into the running mate race stems from the fact that many party strategists found her to be the most suitable candidate going by the guidelines spelt out by the party for the selection of its running mate.

She satisfies the gender balance factor, which is highly rated by the party and has what sources described as cross-cultural appeal by marriage and other genealogical traces. On her own, she stands out as the most regionally balanced among all the other contenders.

By marriage, she is strongly bonded to the northern sector of the country as her husband, Alhaji Iddrisu, who currently heads Professor Mills campaign team, is from the Upper West Region and has influence in other parts of Northern Ghana.

Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu is linked to the Ashanti region maternally. Her late mother, Felicia Mould, hailed from Ejuratia near Mamponteng in the Kwabre District of Ashanti Region.

Her father, the late William Jacob Kwesi Mould, is a thoroughbred Ga from the heartland of Accra - Jamestown, and most NDC strategists say with this multi-ethnic composition, Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu would be the best candidate to partner Prof. Mills.

John Mahama, 47, still has extreme affability and decorum as his key strengths and his possible appeal to women voters because of his good looks remain indubitable.

Interestingly, John, son of prominent Northern Convention People’s Party (CPP) politician and former Regional Minister in the Dr. Nkrumah regime, Mr. E. A. Mahama, is also linked to the Brong Ahafo Region by marriage. His wife, Laudina Mahama, a businesswoman, hails from Yefri-Bodom in the Nkoranza District and those lobbying for the affable legislator add this factor of his linkage to the Brong Ahafo Region, where the NDC is relatively strong, to his strong points.

General Secretary of the NDC, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, had previously told the paper in an interview that the guidelines for the selection of running mate did not make room for ethnic and religious considerations. However, party sources have stated that behind the scenes, the party was working to see how to break the NPP’s domination of the Akan areas by getting a running mate with at least some traces of Akan.

This saw names like Mr. Paul Victor Obeng, a man described by Jerry Rawlings in the PNDC days as having unique brainpower that could not be matched by any in the then opposition, being proposed for consideration.

The decision to settle on someone with Akan links is further enforced by the argument that almost all the party’s holders of shadow ministerial positions in parliament are MPs from the North and the Volta Regions, which seems to enforce the position that the NDC is a Northern and Voltaian party.

The General Secretary told the paper in an interview yesterday that as far as he was concerned, the choice of running mate was the prerogative of Prof. Mills and that the Professor had not yet disclosed his choice to the party. He said the NDC, as a Social Democratic party, believes in equality and justice and would, in line with that, not in any way discriminate against any sex in its activities.

Mr. Asiedu Nketiah emphasized that it was for that reason that gender consideration was made one of the major issues in the guidelines for the selection of a running mate for the 2008 elections.

Asked whether the party was likely to come out with its presidential running mate before the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) goes to congress, he responded, “in fact, that is information we are keeping close to our chest. It is something I won’t tell you,” the General Secretary emphasized.

The Chronicle has however learnt that strategically, the party would want to know who leads the NPP before naming its running mate. The NDC is also said to be having fears that the NPP may ultimately settle on a woman as a running mate to exploit the gender factor, which is likely to be hyped by gender activists in next year’s election, hence the consideration for Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu as running mate.

Other female contenders whose names had come up for the position were, Mrs. Ama Benyiwa-Doe, the party’s Women Organizer and Hannah Tetteh, former MP for Ewutu Senya but their names had to be dropped from the list because they both hail from the same region as the flagbearer –Central Region - and could therefore not go as running mate for strategic reasons.

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