A decision by the New Patriotic Party, NPP, to boycott the first Parliamentary elections under the Fourth Republican constitution was a mistake.
This admission is coming almost three decades after the incident which took place in 1992 when Ghana was transiting from military rule to multi-party democracy.
According to Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, a leading member of the party who later served as a Member of Parliament and Foreign Affairs Minister, the decision at the time was a majority position of the party.
He said Rawlings’ decision to have the presidential and parliamentary vote a week apart afforded the party the opportunity to assess their chances in the legislative vote.
“Rawlings made life very difficult for us. He decided that we should do the presidential and the parliamentary elections one week apart. There was intimidation and we believed sincerely that he did not win.
“So we came back to our headquarters at Asylum Down after the Presidential election, after we have been cheated. There, some groups thought that we should boycott the election because we knew we had been cheated. So we gave our support and vote for other candidates”, he narrated.
At the time, the new Parliament had 200 seats spread across the country but a faction allied to the NPP’s leader at the time, Albert Adu Boahen, prevailed in asking that the vote be boycotted.
“Among ourselves, we were divided. The Adu-Boahen group said we should boycott the election. Some also thought we should go in for the parliamentary election because we had the support, and we knew we could win.
“But at the end of the day, the majority decided that we should boycott the parliamentary election and do analysis. It showed that the verdict of the people was stolen by Rawlings and his team. So they went to Parliament and there was no opposition.”
After the vote, the National Democratic Congress, NDC, led by junta leader turned democrat, late Jerry John Rawlings won 189 seats in Parliament.
The remaining seats were shared among the National Convention Party (8 seats), the EGLE party with a seat and two independent candidates.
Hackman justifies why the NPP wrote a book ‘The Stolen Verdict’ after the vote and insists that were the process open, free and fair, the NPP would have won.
“Now, I am even more convinced that it [the 1992 election] was stolen. There are no two ways about it. That is why we wrote about the ‘Stolen Verdict’.
“But what I think was a mistake was the fact that we should have competed in the parliamentary election. Quite obviously, we knew that if people voted, we would’ve won. We would have gotten a decent number,” he insisted.
Hackman spoke on the Footprints show on Accra-based Citi TV.