NPP restricts flagbear aspirants, swells electoral college

NPP restricts flagbear aspirants, swells electoral collegeThe main opposition New Patriotic Party has made sweeping constitutional amendments that limits flagbearer aspirants to five, expands its electoral college but opposes the appointment instead of election of parliamentary aspirants on the ticket of the party.

Some 1,490 accredited delegates put 48 constitutional amendment proposals to vote with deliberations over key proposals briefly torching off what correspondents described as near-violence.

Perhaps the most controversial of the issues was the proposal to restrict presidential aspirants to five. The party’s leadership had earlier on presented three but that was later increased to five.

The proposal attracted passionate comments from Minority Leader Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu who spoke strongly for it.

Mr Mensah-Bonsu said although there would be shades of opinion – leftists, radicals, conservatives, centrists – they must all be geared towards a better party framework.

“Let our discussions be issues-based and they would throw up for us three (now five) contestants, instead of duplicating efforts, wasting resources, wasting our time,” he said.

The Electoral College of the party, mandated to screen and select the five contestants for election by congress, was also adjusted to a figure, party officials are yet to confirm.

Deliberations over the proposals generated a heated debate in which former Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive Mohammed Amin Anta was attacked, reporters said.

Mr Anta had been speaking for the motion to expand the electoral college of the party but stressed that must see no seal on the number of flagbearer aspirants.

Police eventually cordoned off the podium at the centre of the auditorium where delegates presented positions on proposals.

Although there were earlier reports that the Greater Accra Regional delegates of the party had boycotted proceedings, Chairman Sammy Crabbe said his members only registered their displeasure at developments that were thought to be unhealthy for the unity of the party.

He had been objecting to the party’s use of voice voting because the constitution of the NPP stipulates that all amendments must be approved by a two-thirds majority.

Mr Crabbe said voice voting was not appropriate because a two-thirds majority could not be determined by voice.

The conference started with speeches from the main brass of the party – Chairman Peter Mac Manu, Minority Leader Mensah-Bonsu and ex-President Kufuor – all of whom essentially preached unity as the party heads for the 2012 elections.

Ex-President Kufuor in his address dispelled notions that he belonged to a faction within the party, and urged members to rally behind leadership to reclaim power in the 2012 polls.

Story by Fiifi Koomson