Ghana Opposition Feuds Over Presidential Challenger Fees

(Bloomberg) -- Leading officials of Ghana’s main opposition are locked in a feud over an eightfold increase in the nomination fee for contestants who want to stand as the party’s presidential candidate in the next vote.

The National Democratic Congress, which ruled for two four-year terms until January 2017, announced last week that aspiring candidates for the presidency will be required to pay a filing charge of 400,000 cedis ($83,000), from 50,000 cedis four years ago. The amount is in addition to 20,000 cedis payable for the collection of nomination forms.

The increase in the nomination fee comes less than two months before the party is due to elect its flagbearer for polls due in 2020, with 12 officials including former President John Mahama signaling their intention to stand.

The arrangement is creating the impression that the NDC “is being handed over to the highest bidder,” said former President Jerry Rawlings, who led Ghana’s military administration in the 1980s and still wields huge influence in the party.

Unethical Behavior

“I doubt if anyone of us who has served with integrity, relying on our salaries, can raise these filing fees unless we engaged in some unethical behavior while in office,” Rawlings said Tuesday in a statement on his personal website after eight of the aspirant candidates petitioned him to intervene.

The party hiked the fees to fund its presidential primaries, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, who was re-elected Nov. 18 as the NDC’s general secretary, said in a broadcast Monday on Joy News. While the party is aware of talks between some of the contenders and Rawlings, it hasn’t received any official complaints, Nketia said.

The winning candidate is due to be elected on Jan. 19.

Mahama, who lost power to President Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party in the December 2016 vote, raised funding for his nomination within a day, according to a post on his Facebook account.

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