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21.02.2006 General News

Concern Ghanaians go on weekly demonstrations

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Accra, Feb. 21, GNA - The Concern Ghanaians, a civil society pressure group campaigning against the passage of the Representation of the People Amendment Bill (ROPAB), on Tuesday said "street protestation would be intensified and organized weekly to force the Government to withdraw the bill.

"We have finished with presentation of petitions to Parliament and the seat of Government, now we would use the weapon of public demands and declarations through the staging of weekly street demonstrations to draw Government's attention to the dangers ROPAB poses to the nation," Dr David Pessey, a leading member of the group, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra after a massive demonstration to present a petition to President John Agyekum Kufuor. Dr Pessey, who is the National Treasure of the National Reform Party (NRP), said "no single political party has the right to effect any changes to the electoral rules and regulations, it is an unacceptable move by the ruling Government to clandestinely manipulate the electoral system".

He said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and other opposition political parties forced the then ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government to adhere to electoral reforms, which led to the introduction of transparent ballot boxes, voting with Photo Identification Card and other reforms.

"In opposition NPP led the crusade for electoral reforms ironically in government they now want to disturb the system we all fought for." He said the group would concentrate the demonstration in Greater Accra Region only for now but noted that future circumstances would determine other venues.

Addressing the protestors various leaders, called on the Government to immediately withdraw the bill.

The demonstrators that included several leading members of opposition parties began their march, from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle through the Nkrumah Avenue, Farisco Traffic Lights and then turned left towards the Trades Union Congress to National Theatre, Ministries and finally congregated at the 28th February Crossroads Cenotaph. Some of their placards read: "ROPAB will bring war"; "Burger Vote is Stealing Elections"; "Kufuor we want peace"; "Put Ghana First"; "Wake Up Ghana"; "ROPAB means more congestions at the Universities"; "TUC says no to ROPAB"; "ROPAB is NPP's weapon for destruction" and "God forbid the passage of ROPAB".

About 1,000 Police Officers under the command of Greater Accra Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Douglas Akrofi Asiedu, which was re-enforced at the Castle Intersection with Military personnel, provided security.

Police Officers, some in riot gear stood at vantage intersections along the route of the march to prevent the demonstrators from using unapproved route.

The demonstrators stopped intermittently at traffic lights to rest until they reached the Castle.

Several leading members of opposition parties, including former Vice President Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Chairman of the EGLE Party, Mr Danny Ofori-Atta; the Acting Chairman of the People's National Convention, Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan; Dr David Pessey, a leading member of the National Reform Party and Members of Parliament (MPs) of the opposition parties were among those, who started the demonstration. Opposition parties have thrown their weight behind the anti-ROPAB demonstrations and asked their supporters to join the marches. 21 Feb. 06