Nana Konadu Agyemang had sought to run on the National Democratic Congress party ticket, but was trounced in a 2011 primary battle by John Atta Mills, Ghana‘s then-president who died in July following an illness.
After being beaten by Mills, Agyemang helped launch the rival National Democratic Party and had been flirting for months with a presidential run, while maintaining ties to the NDC.
She formally resigned from the ruling NDC on Thursday and was unanimously endorsed for president by the rival party at its convention outside Accra on Saturday.
“This party was born out of the need to transform Ghana,” she told a crowd of several thousand delegates assembled at the Kumasi Sports Stadium.
“Poverty and discontent remain rife among Ghanaians and I promise that under the NDP government and my leadership we will eradicate these endemic challenges,” she said in accepting the nomination.
Her husband, a national icon who founded the NDC and has led Ghana both as a military ruler and an elected president, has sent mixed messages about his allegiances as regards the December vote.
He praised his wife’s party at the convention on Saturday, saying it “will restore hope and the moral values that the country needs to move forward.”
While he had openly fallen out with the late Mills, Rawlings was on hand on October 4 when President John Dramani Mahama unveiled the NDC’s manifesto, apparently offering support for the president’s election bid.
He further praised Mahama on Saturday.
“Thank God John Mahama has taken over and agreed that he will restore hope in the NDC… Should he win re-election, then we can join hands again,” he said.
Analysts say Rawlings often issues murky, conflicting political statements to cloud his true intentions.
The December polls are widely expected to be close and experts have said the NDC may struggle to retain power if Rawlings throws his influence behind another candidate.
Ghana, a country of more than 20 million, has been seen in recent years as a rare example of stable democracy in West Africa. It began significant oil production in 2010.