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General News of Friday, 8 July 2011

Source: The New Statesman

Panic grips Mills ahead of congress?

Surveys, interviews, analyses and information gathered by the New Statesman indicate that President John Evans Atta Mills has been gripped by serious panic following the last minute realization that the weekend’s presidential nomination of his party may not after all result in the kind of landslide victory he had been made to believe by his GAME (Get Atta Mills Endorsed) campaign team.

President Mills is said to be particularly worried by the fact that the GAME plan to antagonize and isolate former President Rawlings and his wife has angered many constituency delegates.

Even more worrying for the President is the fact that for two years now, his only challenger, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, cleverly maintained a close, caring and intimate contact with a sizeable majority of the ruling party’s constituency officers, of whom 1,433 (out of 1,900 total delegates) voted for her in Tamale on 17 January 2010 as NDC Vice Chairperson, a position from which she resigned recently to contest for the flagbearership.

It doesn’t get better for President Mills, who once told his party’s regional leaders that he is not a welfare officer to be frequenting the NDC headquarters in Kokomlemle.

His challenger, Mrs Rawlings, is said to have kept some 1,600 delegates, mostly constituency officers, on a monthly income support for at least one year.

Her team, per our checks, is financially prepared this weekend to neutralize any last chance cash inducement that the Castle has prepared to throw at the grateful delegates.

President Mills is known to have threatened to withdraw his candidature for the 2012 presidential election if he does not win the presidential primary by a comfortable margin, which his handlers put at 80 per cent or more.

Analysts believe that for Nana Konadu to get even 25% of Saturday’s votes would mean a vote of no confidence in the Mills-Mahama government by a sizeable number of the President’s own party members.

Director of Operations of GAME, Nii Laptey Vanderpuye, is being blamed by senior members of GAME for underestimating the strength of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.

But that blame game by GAME may be unfair to Mr Vanderpuye, since the collective utterance from the entire team has been obviously overly confident and deriding of the NDC founder and his wife.

Members of GAME have stated publicly on several occasions that President Mills will win the congress with not less that 90% of the votes to be cast by some 3,000 delegates.

But information available to the New Statesman indicates that, privately, they fear the delegates have not always been truthful about their voting intentions.

The difficult areas for President Mills are the Upper East, Upper West, Volta and Ashanti Regions. The two candidates may even split votes from the Northern Region equally.

According to a worried senior member of GAME, “it would take some serious begging and spending to put the President back in that comfort zone before voting.”

The general feeling among many of the delegates is that they have been treated better by the Rawlingses than President Mills who has constantly been accused of not showing any commitment to issues affecting the party on whose back he rode to the presidency.

Mrs. Rawlings moved to Sunyani Thursday, two days ahead of the congress, reasonably pursed to match President Mills and his campaign team in the last minute “moneycratic” maneuverings. Her husband had arrived earlier to soften the grass and roots.

Before that, FONKAR members had already stormed Sunyani, engaging in one-on-one interaction with the delegates who had reached the Brong-Ahafo Regional capital three days ahead of the congress.

Members of FONKAR are confident that Mrs. Rawlings will win the presidential primary with 60% of the votes. But, checks made by this paper indicate that this expectation is way too ambitious.

President Mills is expected to be endorsed by some 74 Ministers. But FONKAR is still counting on some five Ministers abandoning the Mills coach.

Among the 119 NDC Members of Parliament, FONKAR members believe their candidate will get about 40 per cent, mainly the backbenchers, voting for her.

Majority of the backbenchers are unhappy with the Mills-Mahama administration. Our checks put her support in the Chamber not more than 18%.

FONKAR is also confident that Mrs Rawlings commands at least 30 per cent of the votes of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives. Our checks, however, show that she will get between 10-13 per cent of the votes of some 160 mayors.

FONKAR members are also looking at winning at least 30 per cent of the votes of the party’s regional officers. Our checks put this at a respectable 15% of the 230 officers.

As indicated above, what is causing Mills and his team sleepless nights is the Mills-by-day, Rawlings-by-night constituency officers.

There are 2,300 of them, constituting more than 75% of the Electoral College.

There are growing concerns that the insults, intimidation, threats, harassment and violence, including the Kumasi shooting, that have blighted the short campaign, could all come to a head at the Sunyani congress.

Officially more than 1,500 police personnel have been deployed to the Brong Ahafo capital.

The NDC has also made arrangements for about 2,000 security personnel for the 3-day congress, in addition to the about 1,800 “Azorka Boys” who are storming Sunyani.

There are concerns from the Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings camp that the security personnel are all part of the GAME plan to put their fear of the ballot (if not the bullet) into FONKAR. But, that appears not to be shaking FONKAR.

Some political pundits have described the upcoming congress as a make or break for the Rawlingses. But fears about the couple leaving the party to form a new one appear too far-fetched.

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