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Mahama wins NDC presidential ticket by landslide

Most of his party backed his candidacy in the 2024 elections but the ex-president faces a bruising campaign

John Dramani Mahama didn't disappoint backers this time. With his national and regional network, he scooped up the presidential nomination for the opposition National Democratic Congress at its special conference on 13-14 May.

Even the scale of Mahama's win, with 297,603 or 98.9% of the votes cast by NDC delegates was unsurprising; former central bank governor Kwabena Duffuor withdrew from the race (AC Vol 48 No 25, Race to the top). Kojo Bonsu, a former mayor of Kumasi, took 1.1% of the delegate votes.

Duffour complained that the party was not ready to conduct a 'free and fair election'. He had tried to get the party primaries postponed, arguing that the list of party members eligible to vote contained several duplicate names and mismatched photographs and other data.

Bonsu sided with Duffuor over the issue but stayed in the race with Mahama, giving it a sliver of competition. Mahama has been reaching out to both men and his critics within the NDC.

Their support may be critical to the NDC's chances of ousting the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2024. With a base in Ashanti region, which is mainly a NPP stronghold, Duffuor could take on an important role in the campaign.

Mahama wants to focus his election pitch on the economic difficulties, allegations of corruption and mismanagement by the NPP government (AC Vol 64 No 1, Financial meltdown weakens NPP). The NPP government has lost substantial support as the economy has weakened in the past two years but with the power of incumbency and plenty of canny political operators, it could still spring a surprise. Mahama's two defeats by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2016 and 2020 point to his campaigning weaknesses.

The NPP has until its party primaries in November to pick its own presidential candidate with President Akufo-Addo standing down after serving two terms. A crowded field of contenders are jockeying for advantage in the party hierarchy but Vice-President, Mahamudu Bawumia, is Akufo-Addo's preferred successor.

Bawumia will face tough competition from former trade minister Alan Kyerematen, former energy minister Boakye Agyarko, and former agriculture minister Owusu Afriyie Akoto (AC Vol 64 No 2, The succession race starts). And the pugnacious MP for Central Region Kennedy Agyapong is preparing to run as a disrupter candidate.

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