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General News of Friday, 4 October 2013

Source: Daily Guide Network

Crisis hits NPP over congress

Leadership of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) yesterday went into a meeting that many described as a make or break for the party amid protest by some party youth.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting was supposed to decide whether or not to accept a proposal by the steering committee of the party which, among others, called for an early congress to elect a presidential candidate.

But the meeting was greeted with a demonstration by some party supporters who were against the ‘top-down’ approach proposal to elect the party’s flagbearer instead of the ‘bottom-up’ approach of polling station, constituency, regional and national executives’ elections.

The supports were against moves by the party leaders to hold early congress even though they were convinced Nana Akufo-Addo, NPP’s 2012 presidential candidate, was capable of winning the 2016 slot so there was no need for an early election.

The meeting brought together key and influential people in the party including members of the NPP’s Council of Elders, former President John Agyekum Kufuor, Party Chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey who has been the lead advocate of those proposals, Minority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu and a host of others.

But after almost six hours of closed-door meeting, members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) could not reach a consensus on the issue at stake.

Instead, they deferred decision for next week when NEC is expected to reconvene on the thorny issue of early congress.

Decisions

A statement issued by the NPP and signed by its Deputy General Secretary, Abdulai Fuhlanba, stated that “members of the National Executive Committee have been tasked to consult their constituencies for finalization of the proposals and consideration of internal calendar at the meeting next week for submission to the National Council.

That notwithstanding, the statement said “two areas of misinformation were dismissed, namely that there was no plan to impose MPs on constituencies,” insisting “there is no such plan.”

Instead, the leadership of the NPP said they continued to believe that elections were the best way to judge one’s electability and for which reason they would not do anything contrary to electoral process.

Apart from that, the statement also sought to defuse claims that the national executives were seeking to extend their mandate, claims which have been dismissed.

“The national executives are working towards its replacement in March 2014 and the constituency and regional elections to precede the national delegates’ congress,” the statement emphasized.

Another NEC meeting has, therefore, been set for next Thursday to decide on the proposals.

Confusion

Earlier in the day, some disgruntled youth activists stormed the Asylum Down headquarters of the party, clad in red band amid shouting and chanting of war songs and wielding placards.

By then the meeting was in session with the leadership of the party locked up in a conference room upstairs.

Not even the pleadings of a team of policemen dispatched on the premises would make them keep their voices down since they wanted to be heard.

According to them, there were there to let the NPP leaders know how unpopular the proposals were and that they were against them.

Attempts by Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minority Leader Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu and a host of others to calm them proved unsuccessful since the young men continued to clap and chant away.

This brought the meeting to a temporary hold-up since the noise was affecting proceedings.

Angry Youth

At a point, leaders of the protesters were asked to call their boys to order before calm was restored.

One of such people was former Assembly Member for Kokomlemle electoral area, Archibald Kobina, who explained to journalists why they carried out the action, saying they were against the proposed top down approach.

“We believe in the bottom-up approach as we have it now; we want our party to go through polling station, constituency, regional, national before the presidential primaries,” he noted insisting, “We think that it is not right; we want to make sure that people contest competitively in a positive way so that when you lose, you lose honourably.”

According to him, “when we decide that some people don’t go, then people are going to harbor pain and then they are going to decide to go independent and it’s not going to augur well for the party.”

“We want them to make sure that at the end of the day, the top-down approach is not imposed on us as a party,” he emphasized.

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