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General News of Thursday, 3 July 2003

Source: Chronicle

Northerners Decry Plans To Ditch Veep


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Some concerned Northerners and New Patriotic Party (NPP) faithful in Tamale have decried what they perceive as subtle propaganda by a section of the media and the public against the retention of Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama as the running mate of President J. A. Kufuor for next year's presidential elections.

They cited, for example, a report on the front-page of The Heritage newspaper of May 21, this year, which alleged that: "The president's headache is who to choose as his vice president, with factions already emerging within the party (NPP) for and against the incumbent, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, who is allegedly seen as a stumbling block to a solution to the Yendi crisis."

A number of such people who spoke to The Chronicle, however, pleaded anonymity.

A veteran politician described the newspaper's report as "divisive, tribalistic, wicked and calculated to marginalize" the vice president who has the potential of becoming the next president of Ghana after President Kufuor's tenure as mandated by the Constitution.

He said, if the NPP claims to be a tradition, which has always believed in democracy, then the party should not countenance those who want to practise discrimination and prejudice against a sitting vice president merely on the grounds of his ethnic origin and circumstances of birth.

According to the veteran politician, those who peddle ethnicity and divisiveness go contrary to NPP's mission to create in Ghana a viable democracy where there is instinctive respect for human rights to the full and for the promotion of social justice.

He pointed out that the 1992 Constitution states in Chapter 55 (4) that: "Every political party shall have a national character, and membership shall not be based on ethnic, religious, regional or other sectional divisions."

This, he said, should serve as a timely reminder to the national executive of the NPP to be wary of those who are campaigning to remove Alhaji Mahama as the running mate of President Kufuor for a second term.

Another opinion leader said the use of the Dagbon chieftaincy crisis to disqualify the vice president on the flimsy excuse that the NPP may suffer heavy defeat during the 2004 general election due to the unresolved tension in the area is heartless, insensitive and does not show empathy for the people of the Dagbon state.

A staunch NPP supporter expressed surprise that a government which is delivering so effectively on its campaign promises would not face the 2004 election with the winning team but would rather drop no other person that the vice president, who is a key member of the winning team.

"Once the number two man in the NPP government is dropped in 2004, it would be interpreted to mean he did not perform satisfactorily and by implication the NPP government as a whole had failed, which could be capitalized upon by the opposition parties," he argued.

He said political pluralism demands the highest level of tolerance of varied interests so that democracy can flourish.

A retired senior civil servant observed history had shown that no political party remains in power permanently; "that is why every party should recognize the need to be fair, reasonable, respectful and tolerant in the political game."

He observed that during the absence of President Kufuor, on his numerous official trips abroad, Vice President Mahama has performing effectively as acting president and wondered why some people would contemplate replacing him in 2004. Two top executives of the party have also expressed their views on the matter.

Mr. Dan Botwe, general secretary of the NPP, is reported to have stated that the choice of a running mate is not the preserve of the president. "The choice is made in consultation with the top notches of the party," he explained.

The national organiser of the NPP, Lord Commey, said in the Heritage story thus: "If I have my way, I would wish that Alhaji Aliu Mahama is retained. He is such a nice man, fatherly, respectful, attentive listener, and very helpful."

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