Security men bringing the situation under control at Mahyia yesterday A FULLY-loaded pistol was retrieved from a man suspected to be the bodyguard of former President Jerry John Rawlings yesterday at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi.
The 'gun man' was believed to have accompanied the former President to the Manhyia Palace for the last Akwasidae celebration for the year by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene.
The man, said to be in his late 30s and whose name was not immediately known, concealed the pistol in his handkerchief.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer's bodyguard whisked the pistol from the man's hands before he could strike.
The incident created some panic before the police brought the situation under control, with Mr Rawlings calling for the return of the fully-loaded pistol.
The 'gun man' was closely following the former President and his wife, who were then heading towards the dais where President John Agyekum Kufuor and other government officials were seated to greet them when the incident unfolded.
A melee suddenly ensued after the incident, as the man who was then furious, tried with all his might to regain his lost gun but he was overpowered by the security personnel stationed at the event.
The ill-fated incident, which occurred right in front of both President Kufuor and Mr. Rawlings, nearly tainted the almost peaceful and colourful Akwasidae which saw the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II sitting in state.
The security personnel acted swiftly to restore normalcy and allow the event which portrayed the rich culture and customs of Asantes to the whole world to continue.
Perhaps it was a bad day for the former First Couple; they were earlier accorded a cold welcome to the durbar grounds.
The charged crowd at the event, upon sighting Mr. Rawlings and his wife, spontaneously heaped insults on and booed at them.
The crowd, after the hooting, started chanting the 'we are moving forward ' refrain of the NPP, perhaps to tell the former President that they would vote massively for the NPP in the run-off.
Strangely, at the time of the infamous incident, National Democratic Congress (NDC) supporters in the city were virtually missing in action, as they were nowhere to be found; not even Daniel Ohene Agyekum, the party's regional chairman was present.
Perhaps to save the NDC leader and his wife from their ordeal and to avert further embarrassment, Otumfuo, in the company of the royal guards, immediately moved round the durbar grounds to greet some high-profile personalities, to bring the programme to a peaceful closure.
President Kufuor, accompanied by NPP bigwigs including Nana Akufo-Addo, had arrived at the durbar grounds to pay his respects to the Asantehene who was richly dressed in 'Kente' cloth with gold ornaments to match.
The two personalities were accorded a resounding welcome to the durbar grounds as their names and that of the NPP were heard being chanted in loud voices all over the durbar grounds where Asante chiefs were in attendance.
Also in the President's entourage were Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor, Alan Kyerematen, Yaw Osafo Maafo, E.A. Owusu-Ansah and a host of other NPP big shots.
John Dramani Mahama, NDC running mate, who quietly came to the durbar grounds to pay his respects to Otumfuo, left even before Mr. Rawlings and his wife could arrive.
Meanwhile, the Ashanti Regional Police Commander, DCOP Kwaku Ayesu Opare-Addo has confirmed the gun incident at the durbar grounds, promising to investigate the matter to set the records straight.
The Police Capo who was not around at the time of the incident noted that information available to him indicated that the 'gun man' who is a civilian, pulled the gun in the midst of people without provocation.
The Ashanti Regional Police boss could not confirm whether the gun was registered or not, but vehemently condemned the act, noting that it was against the law to hold firearm in public.
He assured all that his outfit would come out with an official reaction to the incident by Monday, warning not to deal leniently with miscreants who would try to foment trouble in the city, especially as the presidential run-off draws near. From I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr. & Morgan Owusu, Kumasi