New Patroitic Party
B. J. Da Rocha
Ghana’s political instability since its independence in 1957 has plagued the role political parties played over the years. After the overthrow of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, in 1966, the country suffered under nearly 26 years of military rule, which nurtured an ambiance of instability and a sense of incompetence and disbelief among political parties in effectively representing and integrating the people’s needs, promoting accountability in government, and assembling a solid opposition to the ones in power. However, following the Ghanaian constitutional referendum in 1992, there have been some suggestions that parties have invested their efforts to perform their duties as best as they can.
The New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) birth dates back to 1991 as a set of old politicians who were against the brutal regime of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), which had been in power from 1981 to 1993. With the approval of the constitutional referendum of April 1992, the PNDC lifted the ban on political parties a month later in preparation for multi-party elections. The unhappy politicians used the opportunity to reach out to brilliant minds and grew into a group of people determined to plan and raise funds for the formation of the anticipated political party. Because of the party’s linkage with past Ghanaian political figures, the NPP took on the political ways of the United Party (UP) and became the direct descendant and successor to the philosophy of men like Joseph Boakye Danquah, Solomon Odamtten, Kofi Abrefa Busia, among others. It adopted individualism in a liberal democratic state, the promotion of human and worker’s rights, and a strong quest for the participation of the private sector as the main pillars for development. After a month of preparation, the New Patriotic Party registered before the Electoral Commission as a political party ready to contest on the 1992 presidential and legislative elections.
After more than 10 years of Jerry John Rawlings as chairman of the PNDC, the alliance of the Eagle Party (EP), the National Convention Party (NCP), and the successor party to the PNDC, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) nominated Rawlings as the candidate to run for the presidency. On the other side, Albert Adu Boahen, a professor at the University of Ghana and heavy critic of the PNDC’s regime, became the NPP’s candidate alongside Roland Issifu Alhassan as his running partner to dethrone Rawlings from power. However, despite the fact that all of Rawlings opponents had greater access to the media and the press had more liberties than before, Boahen and Alhassan were no match for him. Results revealed that Rawlings had overwhelmingly won 58.3% of the votes. Yet, despite that international observers considered the presidential election unfolded in a free and fair manner, parties of the opposition cried out fraud and boycotted the following parliamentary election. From 28.1% of registered voters, the NDC won 189 of the 200 seats in parliament on December 29, 1992.
The NPP opted to learn from its mistakes and decided to stop the NDC’s monopoly in parliament in the 1996 elections. John Kufuor was nominated on April 20, 1996, as the NPP presidential candidate for the upcoming elections. On this occasion, both presidential and parliamentary elections were held on December 10, as part of the recent reforms by the Electoral Commission. At the time, the NPP formed an alliance with Kow Nkensen Arkaah, the Vice President of Ghana and leader of the NCP, whose party was beginning to have some differences with the NDC. Kufuor and Arkaah ran together as the Great Alliance but after months of an arduous campaign, Jerry Rawlings was once again re-elected president with 57% of the votes and the National Democratic Congress won 133 seats in parliament. The NPP alleged President Rawlings and the Electoral Commission rigged the election despite international observers declaring it as free and fair. However, the NPP took a major step forward by winning a substantial number of seats in parliament, which effectively put a stop at the NDC monopoly.
With two four-year terms under his belt, Rawlings was no longer eligible to contest in the 2000 presidential election. Hence, the NPP re-nominated Kufuor to run again for the presidency on October 23, 1998, and, in turn, the NDC bestowed their support on Vice President John Atta Mills to maintain power. The NPP went through some changes with Peter Ala Adjetey handing over the chairmanship to Odoi-Sykes. On the night of December 7, 2000, Kufuor had defeated Atta Mills with 48.4% of the votes but since rules from the Electoral Commission mandate that the winner must surpass a 50% threshold, a second round was organized. With the Convention People's Party (CPP), the Reform Party (RP) and the United Ghana Movement supporting the NPP, Kufuor won the elections with 56.9% of the votes and the NPP took 100 seats in parliaments, writing for the first time in history a peaceful transition of power from an incumbent government to the opposition.