As the New Patriotic party (NPP) prepares for its April 25 presidential and parliamentary primaries, former President John Agyekum has urged the executives of the party to provide a level playing field for all aspirants.
In his view, ensuring free and fair primaries will be in the collective interest of the governing party. “If any candidate loses, the person would know that he or she lost fairly. There wouldn’t be rancour that creates divisions,” Mr Kufuor said yesterday on Kumasi-based Otec FM.
He explained that, “in a democracy, you can’t call on people to protect others when it comes to elections,” adding that “elections must be opened for all to contest. If any MP is doing his or her work well, they shouldn’t fear an election.”
The former President’s call follows a similar call by the general secretary of the NPP, John Boadu, and other leading members of the NPP.
Speaking at a regional council meeting in Kumasi on January 24 2020, Mr Boadu stated that no decision had been taken by the party “to protect any Member of Parliament.”
Despite that declaration, there have been series of complaints by some aspiring parliamentary candidates, who have allegedly been denied nomination forms.
For instance, a former presidential aspirant, Francis Addai Nimoh, has accused the Mampong constituency executives for denying him nomination forms.
At the Suame constituency also, a private legal practitioner, John Darko, has said all efforts to get nomination forms have proven futile.
In the Eastern Region, the party’s regional leadership has stated that it will not allow the MP for the Upper Manya Krobo constituency, Joseph Tetteh, to be challenged.
According to the party, anybody who wants to contest the MP will have to meet the regional leadership “to explain to them why he must be allowed to contest.”
The Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has said it will be suicidal for the party to allow aspirants to contest him and others in the party’s upcoming parliamentary primaries.
He claimed in a radio interview that the NPP would do itself a great disservice if it allowed persons such as himself, the First Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei Owusu, and the Minister of Education, Napoleon Opoku-Prempeh, to be challenged.
However, former President Kufuor, largely considered the most successful leader of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, says such practice will not augur well for the party, if not checked.
He said the party paid the price for complacency, as well as the lack of level playing field in the selection of parliamentary candidates in the 2008 general election, warning that such practice should not be entertained this time around.
Meanwhile, the NPP has signed a pact with all parliamentary candidate aspirants that bars them from contesting as independent candidates, or on the ticket of any other political party, should they lose the upcoming primaries slated for April 25.
This was announced by the party’s general secretary, John Boadu, in a release outlining the guidelines and modalities for primaries in “orphan” constituencies held on September 28 2019.
The party has subsequently inserted the pact in the nomination forms that are being sold to the aspirants.
Under the heading “Contractual Undertaking by Prospective Parliamentary Candidate”, the parliamentary candidate hopefuls are to undertake, by signing, that they shall not offer themselves as independent candidates, or contest the parliamentary elections on the ticket of any other party, for the purpose of the 2020 election.
They are also to sign that, should they breach the said undertaking under any circumstances, the party reserves the right to restrain them, using any available legal means.
The incidence of members of the party running as independent candidates, after losing their parliamentary primaries, had largely contributed to cracks at constituency levels in the past, resulting in defeats that could have been avoided.
The phenomenon was particularly rife in the 2008 elections. Aside the 2008 general elections, the party is on record to have lost some key parliamentary seats due to the practice of disgruntled parliamentary candidate hopefuls running as independent candidates.
Source: Daily Statesman