UE/R: Clash looms as NPP, NDC engage in ‘flag war’

A cross-section of supporters awaits the party’s flagbearer along the Bolgatanga-Navrongo Highway.

Signals picked up by Starr News are pointing at the possibility of a violent clash erupting this evening among supporters of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Bolgatanga, Upper East regional capital.

In what can be described as a ‘flag war’ and a ‘battle for political visibility’, the region woke up Friday to an unexpected sight of brand new NDC flags flying on every streetlight pole on the Bolgatanga-Navrongo Highway and around every corner ahead of a campaign tour by the NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who is expected to arrive at sunset Friday.

At midday, NPP enthusiasts took to the roads with a heavy bale of the party’s flags, fresh from the factory, and pitched them on the same poles the NDC had hung theirs. The development has drawn the wrath of NPP supporters across the region with their regional executives reported to have rushed to the police headquarters to report.

“We are hosting our flagbearer. You are not hosting anybody. Why should you do that? All the constituencies Nana is visiting, they have gone to hang their flags there. I’m telling you. They only want us to fight. We will not fight them. I’ve told my people to accommodate them. We wrote to the police almost one week now that our flagbearer is visiting the region. And suddenly, just yesterday they (the NDC) decided to do this,” the NPP’s Upper East Regional Chairman, Murtala Mohammed Ibrahim told Starr News.

We cannot wait for Nana to leave – NDC

When contacted why the flying of the NDC flags had to coincide with the onset of Akufo-Addo’s tour of the region, the regional executives of the NDC said their party had already begun its campaign and that it would be pointless to withhold its flags on the grounds of Nana’s campaign tour.

“I don’t see anything wrong with NDC flying their flags except that if they had placed their party flags and NDC had removed them; then, they have a case. But if it is that because Nana is coming we should wait so that when Nana is out of the region, then, we can now fly our own, that is not how politics is played. We are ruling this country. It is our duty to ensure that there is peace and tranquility in this country. And for that matter, NDC will be the last party to want to foment trouble.

NPP, NDC in a ‘tug of flags’ on the Bolgatanga-Navrongo Highway ahead of Akufo-Addo’s tour of Upper East.

They are aware that we just launched our campaign last week and, after launching the campaign, we are trying to give visibility to our party. So, we have started our campaign whether the president is in the region or not, whether our candidate is there or not. It is not because Nana is coming that we are flying our flags. We will continue to fly them until the election is over,” the NDC’s Upper East Regional Secretary, Donatus Akamugre, reacted in an interview with Starr News.

Police headquarters cannot be reached

Starr News could not reach the Upper East Regional Police Commander, DCOP Simon Afeku, on the telephone before filing this report as he did not answer his telephone calls.

An SMS notification of a possible violent clash between the two parties was, however, sent to him through his contact for the purposes of reinforcing security presence ahead of Akufo-Addo’s arrival this evening.

Meanwhile, NPP supporters have been in high spirits clad in party’s souvenirs amid a general feeling of the infectious joy on the eve of a big festival, as they continue to stretch on their toes for a glimpse at the entry point where the flagbearer is expected to appear with a convoy. Vehicles including motorcycles, taxicabs and motor tricycles can be seen everywhere draped in the NPP’s banners as young men peal vuvuzelas in the streets and a number of bikers display adventurously on the highways.

Nana to tour six NDC strongholds

The presidential candidate is scheduled to take his campaign tour to six constituencies considered the strongholds of the NDC in the region.

The constituencies include Bolgatanga Central, Chiana-Paga, Bongo, Nabdam, Bawku Central and Garu. The flagbearer, according to the party’s communications directorate in the region, will tour the rest of the region’s fifteen constituencies during the second phase of his campaign later in the year.

The presidential candidate, who is also booked to address the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs Sunday, is expected to end his tour of the region Monday with rallies in Bawku, Garu and Bongo after paying courtesy calls on traditional authorities in the areas.

NPP’s performance in NDC’s strongholds in 2008

The NPP, since 1992, has never represented Bolgatanga in Ghana’s Parliament. Nana Akufo-Addo obtained 13,554 (27.28%) votes as against 30,941 (62.27%) votes polled by the NDC’s John Evans Atta Mills in Bolgatanga at the 2008 elections. He attracted 9,889 (33.52%) votes whilst Mills got 17,686 (59.95%) in Bongo.

At Chiana-Paga, Nana garnered 8,270 (30.87%) votes with Mills gaining 14,887 (55.58%) votes. The elections at Nabdam saw Akufo-Addo poll 4,655 (42.18%) votes against Mills’ 5,501 (49.84%) ballots. Bawku Central gave Nana 19,933 (50.49%) votes and Mills 18,943 (47.99%). Nana attracted 12,564 (37.53%) at Garu-Tempane with Mills securing 19,477 (58.18%) of the valid votes cast.

The 2008 runoff gave Nana 15,498 (30.24%) votes in Bolgatanga, 10,047 (34.26%) in Bongo, 8,355 (30.88%) in Chiana-Paga, 4,105 (38.56%) in Nabdam, 18,540 (43.79%) in Bawku Central and 11,881 (35.52%) in Garu-Tempane. Mills won the runoff with 35,746 (69.76%) votes in Bolgatanga, 19,276 (65.74%) in Bongo, 18,698 (69.12%) in Chiana-Paga, 6,541 (61.44%) in Nabdam, 23,800 (56.21%) in Bawku Central and 21,572 (64.48%) in Garu-Tempane.

Performance in NDC’s strongholds in 2012

The results of the 2012 presidential election portray the ‘elephant’ as losing grounds in the same six strongholds where the ‘umbrella’ has been strongly pitched since 1992.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo got 11,027 (22.62%) votes in Bolgatanga Central against President John Dramani Mahama’s 35,142 (72.09%). Bongo gave Nana 9,414 (26.16%) and Mahama 23,185 (64.42%). The NPP attracted 6,659 (18.98%) ballots in Chiana-Paga whilst the NDC obtained 25,815 (73.59%) votes.

At Nabdam, Nana gathered 4,719 (36. 47%) votes with Mahama polling 7,533 (58.21%) votes. The election in Bawku Central saw the NPP gaining 17,974 (40.17%) votes and the NDC 24,707 (55.22%) ballots. The NPP polled 6,509 (31.15%) votes at Garu and the NDC 12,779 (61.16%).

Source: Ghana/starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Edward Adeti

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