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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Ghana's opposition gets new leader
President Kufuor with former President Rawlings
Rawlings (right) no longer leads opposition to Kufuor
Former President Jerry Rawlings has been replaced as head of Ghana's main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).


We have to heal the wounds we have inflicted on each other

Obed Asamoah, NDC
The new chairman, Obed Asamoah, who served as foreign minister and attorney-general under Mr Rawlings, was elected at the NDC's first congress since the party lost the 2000 elections.

Mr Asamoah beat his main rival, Alhaji Iddrisu, by only two votes - 334 to 332.

Mr Rawlings, who retains a ceremonial role as party "Founder", had supported Mr Iddrisu, his former defence minister.

Mudslinging

The BBC's Kwaku Sakyi-Addo in Accra says that the NDC has broken into two factions in recent months - one lining up behind Mr Asamoah, the other backing Mr Rawlings and Alhaji Iddrisu.

Former President Jerry Rawlings
Rawlings still wields influence within the NDC

Insiders said Mr Asamoah who, as finance committee chairman, controls the party purse-strings, had been standing up to Mr Rawlings - something the retired president was not used to.

Our correspondent says that in the lead-up to the congress, the differences between them deteriorated into mudslinging.

Each side handed out to leaflets and statements attacking the other.

Healing wounds

Mr Asamoah told the BBC's Network Africa programme that he would now work towards reconciliation within the NDC

"One of things we have to do will be to heal the wounds that we have inflicted on each other," he said. "We need to put these things behind us... to fight the elections in 2004."

Mr Rawlings seized power in a coup in 1979 and legitimised his rule with free elections in 1992. He was re-elected four years later, but was constitutionally obliged to step aside in 2000.

His chosen successor, Vice-President John Atta Mills, lost the 2000 election to John Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Last year, President Kufuor's government scrapped a public holiday celebrating Mr Rawling's military coup.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Obed Asamoah, NDC, on the BBC's Network Africa
"We need to put these things behind us"
See also:

07 Jan 01 | Africa
Ghana marks start of 'new era'
11 Dec 00 | Africa
Ghana votes for change
02 Jan 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Rawlings: A hard act to follow
09 Dec 00 | Africa
Ghana's opposition scents victory
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ghana
22 Feb 02 | Africa
Timeline: Ghana
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