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18.12.2005 NPP News

Pump, pageantry and bloody clash at NPP Congress

By GNA
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Accra, Dec. 18, GNA - The National Patriotic Party (NPP) National Delegates Congress closed in Accra on Sunday at exactly 0536 hours amidst, pump, pageantry and at least one bloody clash between supporters of Mr Lord Oblitey Commey, National Organiser and a group believed be sympathisers of Alhaji Moctar Bamba.

The delegates were treated to live bandstand music by a band hired by Mr Steve Ayesu Ntim, the defeated contestants in the National Chairmanship race.

Mr Ntim hired the band; provided free medical check up and free water stand during the congress, all in anticipation of victory, which never came to him.

Although Ntim's campaign prior to the conference had been adjudged to be probably the most sophisticated and modern in the history of the Party's national delegates congresses, his paraphernalia at the congress grounds fell short of what was expected of him considering the way he started.

Apparently Mr Peter Mac Manu, who eventually emerged the winner of the chairmanship race, had a stronger presence on the grounds than Mr Ntim, with many billboards and thousands of smaller posters virtually painting all visible spaces.

Other contestants were fairly advertised on the congress grounds. At about 12 midnight, when counting of ballots was still underway, President John Agyekum Kufuor returned to the grounds but could not stay for long due to the heat in there, as people referred to the place as "the oven".

President Kufuor stayed for about two hours and asked that he be permitted to leave, but his request was met with a loud "no" from the delegates, who insisted that he must stay to witness the closing of the congress.

The degree of the freedom of speech Ghanaians enjoy came out clearly when some of the delegates boldly asked President Kufuor: "Why are you leaving? Is it because your favourites are losing?" The President explained that he had important State assignments waiting for him later in the day and asked that the winners should be brought to his residence so that he could congratulate them.

Earlier at about 12 mid-night, the Ghana News Agency was informed that there was fighting just outside the entrance of the congress venue at the N-Block of the University of Ghana, popularly referred to as the "Tsunami Block".

The clash was between members of a spinning group known as Peace Spinners, hired by Mr Commey and a group from the congress venue wearing Alhaji Bamba's T-Shirts, who apparently mistook the Spinners for another group that had manhandled one of their members.

Mr Ishmael Abbey, Leader of Peace Spinners, told the GNA that he stepped away from the spinning spot for a few minutes only to return to see members of his group being beaten.

In the process one of them was hit in the head with a stone and he bled profusely. There was a pool of blood on the ground that confirmed his story.

Ebenezer Lamptey, a Spinner with Peace Spinners, said he was hit in the chest with a large piece of wood and was thrown to the ground with such force that he could barely talk to the GNA.

The driver of the van from, which the spinners played their music, said he was also slapped in his sleep and out of fear he drove the van off to the Legon Police Station, leaving the spinning equipment worth millions of cedis at the mercy of the attackers.

Jonas Owusu, one of the spinners, who managed to stand to watch what was happening, told the GNA that the attackers destroyed their CDs, took away their mixers, professional players, speakers and microphones. Jonas said he had earlier witnessed a group in a fight with another group right at the entrance of the congress venue and one of them was beaten and thrown down.

He said the group, whose member was beaten, went to the congress venue and brought in more members and when they got to know that Mr Commey hired the Spinners, they mistook them for the thugs, who had beaten their member and pounced on them. 18 Dec. 05

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