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Ghana Opposition Criticizes Arrest of Protesters


In Ghana, leaders of demonstrations against a bill before parliament were arrested and released on bail. Police sources say the demonstrations turned violent when the protesters clashed with police in the capital, Accra. The demonstration was against a bill known as the Representation of the People Amendment Bill (ROPAB), currently before parliament. The legislation seeks to enable Ghanaians living abroad to vote in the general elections.

English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey talked with a spokesman for the opposition National Democratic Congress, Haruna Iddrissu, who called the police action “an attempt to cow or intimidate the demonstrators from exercising…their freedom of expression and [assembly].”

Sources say police invited the leaders of the demonstration to come for a discussion but when they reported to the police headquarters they were arrested. The NDC has criticized the police for its reaction during the demonstration, saying it is unfortunate and unbecoming of a unit charged with keeping public peace.

David Eklu, the director of police public affairs, says the Public Order Act requires that the organizers of a demonstration be held responsible if there is any destruction to life or property, or an attack on an officer. He says one officer had his glasses smashed by demonstrators, while a civilian's car was damaged.

However, opposition spokesman Haruna Iddrissu says the police arrested several opposition members who were not responsible for the protest.