Rawlings' wife launches challenge to Mills
Accra - The wife of longtime Ghana ruler Jerry Rawlings on Tuesday began her challenge to President John Atta Mills for his party's nomination ahead of 2012 elections amid drumming and dancing from supporters.
Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings collected her nomination forms at the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) headquarters for her campaign that has signaled divisions within the party.
Her challenge to Atta Mills for the July 08 primary will mark the first time a sitting president will have to compete for his own party's nomination for re-election.
"Picking of the nomination forms marks the beginning of the process of bringing Ghana back to where it belongs," she said.
The 62-year-old is the wife of Jerry Rawlings, Ghana's longest ruler who seized power in successive coups, in 1979 and 1981, before serving as elected president from 1993-2001.
Former president Rawlings has been a major critic of Mills' administration, arguing he has not done enough to address poverty and tackle corruption, among other issues.
The move by the former first lady shows up divisions among the hierarchy of the ruling party ahead of December 2012 elections.
But a spokesman for the Rawlingses who is also the party's deputy secretary general, Kofi Adams, denied the campaign revealed cracks in the NDC.
"How can a democratic process of people contesting be seen to mean it's dividing the party? It's a democratic process and it's her democratic right," Adams told AFP.
Rawlings' husband was not present when she collected the forms.
Perry Okudzeto, a spokesperson for the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), said "the power struggle in the ruling party clearly shows the weakness of the ... government".
The NPP candidate was narrowly defeated by Atta Mills in the 2008 elections.
Ghana is seen as a relatively stable democracy in a turbulent region. The West African country recently began major commercial oil production for the first time.