World Bulletin / News Desk
Ghana's ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has confirmed newly sworn-in President John Dramani Mahama as its leader in a move seen as boosting his chances of becoming the party's candidate in a presidential election later this year.
The West African oil, cocoa and gold producer has seen a smooth transition of power following the sudden death of President John Atta Mills on Tuesday, but attention has already turned to who will replace him as the NDC's flagbearer in the December vote.
NDC Deputy General Secretary George Lawson said the party confirmed Mahama's leadership at a meeting on Wednesday, in line with the bylaws of the party's constitution.
"The meeting unanimously confirmed His Excellency President John Mahama as the party's new leader. It was a smooth process," Lawson told Reuters on Thursday.
The NDC was due to hold another meeting on Thursday to hammer out a process for electing a candidate to run against the opposition New Patriotic Party's Nana Akufo-Addo in what is expected to be a tight race.
A domestic analyst and party officials said Mahama's new position as leader of the party, a post previously held by Mills, would help clear the path to nomination as its candidate.
"We don't think there will be any contest. It's going to be President Mahama," one key NDC leader told Reuters, asking not to be named.
Analyst Emmanuel Akwetey of the Accra-based Institute of Democratic Governance said the fact that Mahama will enter the competition as Ghana's sitting president would also work in his favour.
"I think it's a done deal," Akwetey said.
Ahead of Mills' death, most analysts had expected a year of election spending testing Ghana's reputation for improved economic management. The government last week sought parliament's permission for extra spending.
Mahama is widely expected to maintain current policies in his caretaker role.
There had been concerns that uncertainty following Mills' death and the prospect of a possible internal struggle within the ruling party could unsettle the political outlook.
One potential challenger is seen as Nana Konadu, wife of former president Jerry Rawlings, who Mills crushed in a divisive party primary.
In an interview to the BBC on Wednesday, former president Rawlings appeared to lay bare some of the existing divisions, claiming that health problems had affected Mills' performance and criticised him for not attending to them better.
Ghana has been one of the best performing economies in Africa over the last few years, helped by high oil prices.
However with exported oil and imported consumer goods paid for in dollars, the local Ghanaian currency has suffered, falling some 17 percent this year and hitting poorer people without access to foreign currency.
Analysts had worried prolonged political uncertainly might delay efforts to address this.
Refugee crisis has led to formation of right-wing terrorist groups, security service warns
Gibraltar is currently in talks with Scotland to discuss the possibility of remaining part of the EU
- Rifaat al-Assad, Syria's vice president in the 1980s, has also been accused of embezzlement
Emergency session at European Parliament prompts angry exchanges between EU leaders and eurosceptics over the Brexit
Senate set to vote on eform package on Tuesday 6 pm, before National Assembly takes it up next week
UK capital needs greater powers following Brexit decision, Sadiq Khan says
As UK's Conservative Party prepares for post-Brexit leadership race, British leader David Cameron travels to Brussels
Talks on Chapter 33 which deals with financial and budgetary provisions to begin on Thursday, Turkey's EU ambassador confirms
Detractors say new report does not increase Rousseff’s chances of returning to office
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has raised the prospect of a new EU referendum and has announced that he may be a possible candidate to be the next leader of the Conservative Party.
Hamas has thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his support following a reconciliation pact with Israel
Israeli police have temporarily closed Al-Aqsa mosque until Thursday after clashes occurred between IDF soldiers and Muslim worshippers
Kremlin says Turkish leader pledges to repair diplomatic relations after November incident near Turkey-Syria border.
Long-running legal fight se Jacob Zuma ordered to repay money spent on non-security upgrades to private residence
US Secretary of State predicts 'even stronger NATO going forward' following UK's vote to leave EU
Lithuania, concerned about losing a strong defender of Russian sanctions in the EU, has called for a gradual British exit from the EU that preserves ties with London.