Mr and Mrs Rawlings

Credible information picked up by DAILY GUIDE indicates that former President Jerry Rawlings has been holding a series of meetings with interim executive officers of the newly-formed National Democratic Party (NDP), which broke away from the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Sources said he first met them in his office on Thursday, on arrival into the country from his trip abroad; and subsequently met other interim officers from selected regions including Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Upper West and Northern regions on Friday together with his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, at the North Ridge office of the 31st December Women?s Movement (DWM).

Further meetings were held on Saturday to conclude the party?s registration process.

At the time DAILY GUIDE got to the office of the 31st December Women?s Movement on Friday, they were said to be locked-up in a marathon meeting.

This was followed by another meeting on Saturday with another set of NDP officials.

Spokesman for the Rawlingses, Kofi Adams and other influential members of the group who had either resigned or left the NDC, were said to be present at various times, with the meeting lasting several hours.

The meeting, according to a source, was to among other things strategise on how to roll out a comprehensive and vigorous campaign across the length and breadth of the country ahead of the 2012 elections, and embark on an intensive membership drive to strengthen their support base.

Joseph Bediako, a member of Friends of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings (FONKAR), told Rok FM in Takoradi that the former first family was part of the new party.

This ran counter to the position of the NDC that the association of Mr Rawlings, who is the NDC founder, to the NDP, was mere speculation.

?Over the past few days, the Secretariat of the NDC Headquarters has been approached by numerous media houses to comment on the reported formation of a new political party which is being associated with former President JJ Rawlings who is the Founder of the NDC.

?The NDC regards the reported association of our former President to the new party as mere speculation and will not make any statement on the matter until the former President himself comes out. All who speak in the name of the NDC in this matter must therefore do so with circumspection and to remain focused on what the Mills Administration has achieved in the face of daunting challenges,? a statement signed by Richard Quashigah, Propaganda Secretary said.

The continuous silence of the Rawlingses on speculations that they were behind the formation of the NDP had given many reason to believe they were indeed the brains behind the party.

Though no physical structure (in terms of building) had yet been sighted of the NDP, indications were that the party had interim officers in all 10 regions of the country and were seriously working to win more souls, especially disgruntled members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) into their fold.

This was in view of the fact that most or virtually all the founding members of the NDP were former members of the ruling NDC who were either on suspension for one reason or the other, or had left the ruling party out of frustration.

Former General Secretary of the NDC and now interim Chairman of the NDP, Dr Nii Armah Josiah Aryeh, had indicated that the ideology of the newly formed party was to protect Ghanaians with emphasis on the under-privileged in society.

Contrary to suggestions that the NDP was formed to scuttle the front of the ruling party, Josiah Aryeh maintained that the primary objective of the party was to become the people?s choice of a governing party.

The NDP has a logo that depicts a white rising dove with the famous ?Gye Nyame? symbol in its beak and colours similar to that of the NDC; red, green, white and black.

NDP Is Light Weight

Though the Electoral Commission is yet to issue the NDP with a certificate to operate as a full-fledged political party, some members of the Mills-led NDC administration including Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa have sought to ridicule the formation of the party.

?I do not think the NDP has the capacity to organize and win elections in 2012 ? it is still-born really,? he said on Joy FM/MultiTV current affairs programme, Newsfile on Saturday.

He said the NDC was still not sure whether the Rawlingses were indeed behind the party, adding that the NDC had issued a statement to say the founder, Mr. Jerry John Rawlings, had not indicated to the party he was leaving.

Okudzeto Ablakwa noted that even if the Rawlingses did not campaign for the NDC this year, that was not a guarantee the NDC would lose, saying that in 2000 and year 2004, the Rawlingses were on the NDC campaign trail and yet the party lost on both occasions, suggesting the former first family had little impact on the NDC?s fortunes.

The deputy minister said the National Reform party (NRP) dealt a serious blow to the NDC in 2000 because its members then were cadres who could organize at the grassroots level, but the people linked to the NDP so far were top brass NDC members who did not have the capacity and personnel to organize.

?So far we have not been able to count even five disgruntled leading members of the NDC linked to the NDP and there is nobody that can convince me that they can organize and make any impact.?

By Charles Takyi-Boadu

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