Tuesday’s official merger of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) with Dr. Obed Asamoah’s Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) threatens the existence of the ruling NDC as a duly registered political party in Ghana.

Constitutional lawyers are citing key pieces of legislation that may nullify the NDC’s status as a political party, following its merger with the breakaway DFP.

The Political Parties’ Law-Act 574 of 2000, explicitly states that the original identity of political parties expires immediately they merge: “Where two or more registered political parties come together and merge as one party, the registration of each party existing immediately before the effective date of the merger shall lapse; and the new party shall require registration for the purposes of this Act.”

The NDC has not given details of the structures of the new entity: all it has said publicly is that its relationship with the DFP is that of a merger and not an alliance.

According to critics, if the unification was an alliance, it would have spared the troubled party the need to re-register or alter its status at the Electoral Commission.

The suspended deputy General Secretary of the party, Kofi Adams, on Thursday, warned the party that it would be committing an illegality if it co-opted any members of the DFP as executive members of NDC, saying the decision contravened sections of the party’s constitution.
“The constitution states clearly the number of people that can be called into the executive. It also states clearly who can attend NEC meetings among others and so to add them on, which will exceed the accepted number of people on the executive council, is an illegality,” Mr Adams warned.
Professor Gilbert Keith Bluwe, a political science lecturer at the University of Cape Coast, commented about the union and its implications.

According to him, “Lawyers may split hairs over the issues, but as a political scientist, I want to know if the merger will result in the restructuring of the party and its leadership.”

Speaking at the ceremony to formally fuse the two parties, the NDC General Secretary told party members, “With the approval of the NDC of this merger, we have brought to a closure the page on the DFP”.

In spite of the razzmatazz of their union, it appears the EC has not been kept in the loop.

In an interview with Christian Owusu Parry, acting Director of Public Affairs of the EC, he said the commission had not received any formal notification of the merger. “As far as the Commission is concerned, we are unaware of a merger between any parties,” he said.

It is unclear when the merged entity would be communicated officially to the EC.

Under the legislation on political parties, when a new party registers at the EC, it has to submit a clear constitution, rules and regulations, its identifying symbol and the names of its leadership.

The union, which may alter the structures of the NDC, is coming at a crucial time in the history of the party.

The party is creaking under the weight of a serious rift that is threatening to break it apart.

The founder of the party, ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, is pitted against the leadership of the party which is mostly aligned to the current leader of the party and Head of State, President Evans John Atta-Mills.

Recently, the wife of the party’s founder was forced by the rancor in the party to acquire exclusive right over the party’s logo which she claimed she designed as a work of art.

There are indications that she may eventually take the logo away from the party, denying the NDC of its popular identity; the umbrella with an eagle crest.

A possible loss of the party logo and a potential alteration of the NDC’s status at the Electoral Commission might just worsen the woes of the party which had been reeling under intense confusion, critics told DAILY GUIDE.

The merger talks began early 2011, and in October 2011, the DFP held an expanded extraordinary conference where the executive council of the DFP proposed a merger with NDC. The embattled deputy general secretary of the NDC claimed he initiated the return of the DFP to the NDC fold.

Some party supporters are in disagreement with the merger, citing the highly controversial circumstance in which the DFP spilt from the NDC in 2006.

 Since the split, the founder of the DFP had mounted platforms to denigrate the NDC.

It is unclear why the DFP has decided to rejoin the NDC at this time.

It argues that ‘democratic values’ which were missing in the NDC at the time of their departure have been restored.

Critics doubt this explanation; according to Prof. Bluwe, the DFP’s leadership had decided to “Seek accommodation under the umbrella” because their fortunes were dwindling.

“They have no following in the country anymore,” he said.

 By: Raphael Adeniran

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