A cold breeze appears to have frittered away the warmth in the house of the Rawlingses after Saturday’s crushing electoral defeat suffered by former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, in Sunyani, a source close to the former first family has told The Globe.
The more than 3,000 delegates of the NDC who gathered at the Sunyani Coronation Park on Saturday to elect a new leader dealt a humiliating blow to the presidential ambitions of the 31st December Women’s Movement boss, handing her a 96.9% to 3.1% drubbing at the end of a contest preceded by serious allegations of vote-buying and intimidation of delegates by loyalists of the incumbent.
President John Mills won in all 10 regions with a total of 2771 votes; the former first lady -- a woman who wielded a lot of power and influence in the NDC during her husband’s 19 years as head of state -- received a mere 90 votes.
There were 5 spoilt ballot papers.
A source close to the former first family has told The Globe the defeated NDC flag bearer aspirant is unhappy with the husband for, as the source puts it, “not actively supporting her campaign for election as flag bearer.”
“The thing is Madam believes the old man did not do enough...
Also she is very unhappy about how the founder stepped forward to raise the right hand of President Mills soon after the results were announced when he knows that the elections in Sunyani were not free and fair,” the source said, hours after the former first-couple left the Coronation Park.
The source added: “What even hurts madam the most is the old man’s suggestion that Madam should have withdrawn from the race.
"In fact, the old man practically told Madam ‘I told you so’ as they left the park.”
But, Spokesperson for the group, Friends of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings (FONKAR) has denied that there is cold war in the Rawlingses home.
“There is nothing like that. I can say with certainty that those claims by your source are false,” Dela Coffie, said adding: “The two of them even addressed their supporters together before we left Sunyani on Sunday.”
He told this reporter that Mrs Rawlings’ campaign team is scheduled to meet later today to decide on how to officially respond to the results of the polls. “We believe the election was not free and fair,” the FONKAR spokesperson said.
However, our source’s account of what happened moments after the results of Saturday’s polls were announced give credence to an earlier claim by a former Rawlings Aide, Victor Smith, that the retired Ghanaian leader “has been very hesitant to support his wife’s presidential ambition.”
Ahead of the weekend’s congress, Smith is on record as having said that Former President Rawlings’ seeming support for the wife’s ambition was merely to save his matrimonial home, after reports emerged that the former first couple’s over three-decade-old marriage was heading for the rocks.
Now Ghana’s ambassador to Serbia, Smith served as Spokesperson for the former first family for almost eight years.
On Sunday morning, our source told this reporter that the rising tension between Rawlings and his wife could be harbingers portending ill consequences for the couple.
Badly bruised and disappointed, Mrs. Rawlings stormed out of the venue of the national delegate’s congress of the NDC soon after the husband introduced President Mills to the packed stadium as candidate-elect.
She neither publicly acknowledged defeat nor did she publicly pledge to support the Mills ticket for 2012.
“Her sudden departure from the venue at the time the sitting president was still around did not only break protocol, but also demonstrated disrespect to the delegates who decided that President Mills should lead again into next year’s elections,” a senior party official told The Globe.
It is on record that past NDC congresses, at which Prof Mills defeated other candidates to win his party’s nomination, heard concession speeches from losing aspirants accompanied by the pledges to support the victor.
But FONKAR Spokesperson, Dela Coffie, said there was nothing wrong with Mrs Rawlings’ unceremonious departure from the Coronation Park.
“There is no doubt that there was serious intimidation of delegates in Sunyani. We are not happy at all about how things went,” he said adding: “All these things explained why Madam walked out because she was being intimidated even on the stage.
If I were her I would have walked out soon after the counting of the ballots started.”
“It’s a deep wound in the history of the Rawlingses and also in the history of the NDC,” Muntala Rafik, a die-hard Rawlings loyalist told The Globe after the results were announced.
“The pain from this embarrassing defeat won’t go away in just one day. We will have to work for a long time on ourselves to overcome the trauma from this defeat,” said Rafik who travelled from Wa in the Upper West Region to support.
The defeat for Mrs. Rawlings, which came despite her husband’s call for a change of leadership of the party he founded two decades ago, has prompted speculation that the former First family’s grip on the ruling NDC might weaken.
But while the former first couple’s reputation has suffered, Mr. Rawlings, who remains the founder of the NDC, is expected to weather the storm without a challenge to his status – in part because he has no major rivals challenging his supreme title.
Reacting to the result, Deputy Majority Leader, Hon Rashid Pelpuo, said that it showed that the timing of the former first lady’s bid was bad and ill-advised.
“What has happened was what we feared,” he said turning off a broad smile that had lit his face soon after the results were announced.
“The defeat indeed vindicates the majority side in Parliament because we had seen this coming.
Indeed we told her so. That was why we went to see the husband to tell her to step down but they still persisted only to produce this embarrassing result,” said Hon Pelpuo shortly before leaving Sunyani for Accra.
“We are excited in Parliament that President Mills’ mandate to lead the NDC has been renewed,” he said in an interview with this reporter, adding “The Rawlingses should take the Mills victory as victory for the NDC and work hand in hand with Prof Mills to win another four year mandate in 2012.”
“It is not all over for the Rawlingses. I believe they must come strong to back Mills for another victory over Nana Addo, who is preaching all-die-be-die.”
“I believe All-life-is-life,” the Wa Central MP said, adding “an NDC victory in 2012 will continue to protect Ghanaian all lives.”
“Let us leave here a united party. There should be no bickering, no name-calling, no divisive tendencies,” Prof John Mills said in his acceptance speech to a jubilant crowd of party chiefs and delegates the NDC at the end of the historic National Delegates’ Congress held in Sunyani.
“The only losers are the people who wished for a bruising fight for the NDC,” he said and went on to say having been elected again, “We have a duty to perform and we are being reminded of it”, in apparent reference to the concerns raised by grass root party members during the campaign.
He said the 2012 election campaign of the NDC had been duly launched with his election, and called for an all-hands-on-deck approach.
“Let’s work harder. The future for the NDC is bright,” the second term-seeking Ghanaian leader said to his party delegates, stressing, “We need to engage the opposition in a strong contest. The battle has just started.”
At the end of the two-day congress -- described by Deputy Information Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, as “a referendum on how well President Mills is doing” -- NDC kingmakers and supporters who attended the historic Sunyani Congress left the Coronation Park in a party mood, re-energised for battle against a common enemy – the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo, who top NDC chief’s have vowed to push into political retirement in election 2012.
Source: The Globe
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