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14.02.2006 General News

Thousands hit the streets against ROPAB

Thousands hit the streets against ROPAB
LISTEN FEB 14, 2006

Accra, Feb 14, GNA - Thousands of Ghanaians on Tuesday poured onto the streets in Accra to either take a glimpse at or participate in a demonstration against the passage of the Representation of the People Amendment Bill (ROPAB). The peaceful protest march was to back their request for the withdrawal of the Bill, currently before Parliament. The more than six hours' march was organized by Concerned Ghanaians, a pressure group, with support from the Minority parties including the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Eagle Party, the National Reform Party (NRP), the Great Consolidated People's Party and some civil society groups. High profile political figures including Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Presidential Candidate for the NDC in Election 2004; Mr Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader in Parliament; Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, an Executive Member of NDC and other NDC stalwarts like Ms Ama Benyiwa Doe; Alhaji Huudu Yahaya; Dr Tony Aidoo, Mr Ofosu Ampofo; and Mr Charles Kofi Wayo a leading Member of the People's National Convention (PNC) took part in the street demonstration against the Bill, which they described as despotic and a recipe for chaos, which had stirred both Parliamentary and national controversy. Other personalities who took part in the march included Mr Danny Ofori Atta, Chairman of the Eagle Party, Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, Former Minister of Defence and Ms Emelia Arthur, Deputy General Secretary of the NRP. The placard bearing protestors, dressed in Valentine Day red clothes and wearing head and hand bands started their protest march from the Holy Gardens at the kwame Nkrumah Circle. They sang, drummed and danced amidst heavy Police security protection and went through the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, to the Farisco Traffic Lights and turned left toward TUC Building, National Theatre, the Ministries and ended in front of the Osu Military Cemetery, with intermittent periods of resting, with some lying on the tarred road, at major traffic lights along the route. People came out of their offices, and school children craned their necks out of classrooms to look at the marchers, who had placards, some of which read: "Pass the Disability Bill Not ROPAB"; "ROPAB is Robbery" "Say No to ROPAB Lie Lie Government" Come Down and Vote in Ghana" "ROPAB is Not Our Priority Now." Other placards read: "London to Ghana is Six Hours"; "Love Ghana-Hate ROPAB"; "Golden Age to Rig Elections" and "ROPAB means Robbery of People Abroad Bill." Traffic was held up for some time at various points along the route. There was a minor skirmish between the Police and the demonstrators at the Farisco Intersection on the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue. The intervention of Assistant Commissioner of Police {ACP} Mr Kofi Boakye, Commander of Operations at Police Headquarters, restored order. The arrival of Mr Wayo later near the scene was greeted with cheers as he claimed he had come to restore peace. When the demonstrators got to the frontage of the Osu Military Cemetery their Leaders went to present their petition to the Speaker of Parliament. Mr Ofori-Atta, standing in a truck, equipped with a public address system, told the mammoth crowd, amidst intermittent war cries that their petition had been presented and he "had promise to look at the petition" and urged the protestors to respond favourably for another march if the Bill was not withdrawn. "Thank you! You have shown your love for Ghana on this Valentine Day. If they don't withdraw the Bill, come again when we call you! We thank Almighty God for this successful march", Mr Ofori-Atta said. 14 Feb. 06