Ghana: the race for Kufuor's mantle; Stephen Gyasi Jnr reports from Accra on the 15 aspirants from the ruling party who want to succeed President John Kufuor. It is one hell of a race.

Author:Gyasi, Stephen
Position:Feature
 
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Several ministers and leading members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) have started canvassing for support ahead of the party's national delegates congress tentatively slated for September this year to elect a successor to President John Agyekum Kufuor who finishes his constitutional two terms at the next general elections fixed for December 2008.

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Prominent among the aspirants is President Kufuor's younger brother and defence minister, Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor, whose decision to contest has raised eyebrows over a possible dynasty. Dr Addo Kufuor is one of the few ministers who have survived the numerous cabinet reshuffles in the last six years. A medical doctor by profession, he comes across as an affable personality whose soft-spoken nature endears him to all who come across him.

Also in the frame is Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, although he is yet to officially declare his hand; and the foreign minister, Nana Akuffo Addo. President Kufuor has warned that he would not hesitate to sanction any minister who places his leadership campaign above his ministerial responsibilities. This warning has been echoed by the former senior minister, J. H. Mensah, who says the race for the presidency is not a beauty contest and that the aspirants should not place personal enhancement ahead of the onerous responsibilities of their ministerial offices.

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One of the aspirants who believe he has the competitive edge over the others is the former finance minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, who was the minister of education and sports when the national football team, the Black Stars, sealed their maiden qualification for the World Cup last year.

According to him: "The Black Stars' sublime performance brought unity to the nation which had hitherto been polarised by politics, so I believe I have what it takes to win the delegates over to my side."

Some of the aspirants have already started taking advantage of the vibrant media landscape in the country to appeal to the electorate, especially the delegates who will decide their fate at the party congress.

Dark horses in the race, such as the renowned heart surgeon, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the CEO of the nation's premier teaching hospital, Korle-Bu; and Boakye Kyeremanteng Agyarko, vice president of the Bank of New York, are still confident of getting the nod despite the pedigree of their competitors.

One of the dark horses well worth watching is the former...

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