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15.05.2008 General News

Bekwai Youth Demonstrate Against NPP Candidate

By Daily Graphic
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The ugly side of democracy manifested at Bekwai yesterday when hundreds of the youth protesting against the outcome of the recent New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary primary there, defied police order and staged a violent demonstration that completely crippled socio-economic activities in the town.

It was pure mayhem, and terrified residents ran to safe areas as the police battled the rampaging youth with tear gas.

A plume of black smoke drifted into the morning skies as a result of burning car tyres and other materials around the Bekwai constituency offices of the NPP and many other parts of the town.

The police called reinforcement from other parts of the Amansie East District and Kumasi.

A police vehicle had its windscreen damaged as the youth attacked the police with stones and other offensive missiles.

The town was almost deserted when the Daily Graphic got there about 10:30a.m.

The Obuasi Divisional Commander of Police, Chief Superintendent Osei Ampofo Duku, who was hit by a stone thrown by one of the rioters, could not tell the number of people injured in the disturbance.

Unconfirmed reports, however, indicated that at least 10 people sustained various degrees of injury.

The police had also arrested 12 suspects as of 11:15 a.m. but the divisional commander said efforts were being made to arrest more.

The police and the youth barricaded most of the roads in the town and the Daily Graphic team had to use a bumpy by-pass to reach the police station.

Since the NPP MP for Bekwai, Mr Kofi Poku Adusei, was elected last Friday after beating Mr Joe Osei-Wusu, the Chief Executive of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), by just a vote, to become the NPP parliamentary candidate for the 2008 parliamentary, there had been mounting tension in the town.

Chief Supt Duku said last Monday, some of the youth, claiming to be against the re-election of Mr Poku Adusei, informed the police that they wanted to stage a demonstration yesterday against Mr Poku Adusei.

He said the police turned down their request and informed them that at least five days were needed for the youth to undertake their action.

To the surprise of the police, hundreds of the youth took over the town this morning, burning tyres on barricaded roads and other parts of the town, creating general panic.

The divisional commander stated that the riots started at the Omanhene's palace, close to the police station, and expressed concern about the manner in which the palace was allowed to be used as the congregational grounds for the rioters.

He said the arrested suspects would be transferred to Kumasi for further action.

Story by Kwame Asare Boadu

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