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01.03.2006 General News

Court restrains Concerned Ghanaians from holding demo

By GNA

Accra, March 01, GNA - An Accra Fast Track High Court on Wednesday restrained a group of demonstrators, known as Concerned Ghanaians, from holding their third demonstration on Representation of the People Amendment Law (ROPAL) slated for March 2.

The court presided over Mr Justice P.K. Gyaesayour ordered the police to notify the demonstrators (Defendants) of the order within 10 days.

The ruling followed an ex-parte motion filed by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Patrick Acheampong, praying the court for an order to restrain the group from holding its third demonstration on ROPAL on March 02.

The Police contended that due to the impending Independence Day celebration, which falls on March 06, it was impossible to organize officers and men for the demonstration hence should be postponed and re-routed.

The concerned Ghanaians in a letter signed by Mr Mahama Ayariga, NDC Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, however, indicated in a letter that the group could not comply with the request of the police. "Pursuant to section 1 (5) of the Public order Act, 1994 (Act 491) we wish to indicate our inability to comply with your request that the demonstration and public protest scheduled for Thursday the 2nd of March 2006 should be postponed and relocated," the letter stated. The court declared that there was the sense of urgency in the application of the police, saying it was not barring the demonstrators from holding their march but asking for a postponement. It observed that the police had given the same demonstrators protection on two occasions without any hitch.

"The police have the power to request the organizers to postpone the demonstration if they have reason that it would create inconvenience in terms of fund and security, among others," the court said. Assistant Commissioner of Police Mr Kofi Asiedu Akrofi represented the IGP.

Mr K. K. Amoah, counsel for the Police, recalled the two demonstrations held by the Concerned Ghanaians on February 14, and February 21, saying because of the impending Independence Day celebration, officers and men had been released to various stations after the two events to rehearse for the celebration. In an affidavit in support of the motion, Mr Amoah argued that the pending national celebration had made it "impossible to organize officers and men to provide the needed security in any village and hamlet in the country."

Mr Amoah said this had been conveyed to the organizers in a letter dated on February 27, advising them to postpone the date and processional route in view of the impending anniversary. He said in the early hours of Wednesday the organizers of the demonstration in letter had refused to comply with the police directive. Mr Amoah said unless the court restrained the concerned Ghanaians, they would carry out their planned demonstration and "the public order and security in Accra will be gravely threatened". The second demonstration on February 21 turned violent at the Castle Junction when their leaders had gone to the Castle to present a petition to the President.

The police said acts of violence by the demonstrators who were burning tyres and throwing stones forced them to use tear gas and water canons to disperse the crowd. The Police Administration subsequently condemned various acts of disorder and violence perpetrated by some people who took part in demonstration.

The police arrested several leaders of the demonstration and charged them with conspiracy to commit crime, obstructing traffic and destruction to property.

Parliament on February 23 voted to pass the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill. The Minority, which had vehemently opposed the bill from the onset, was absent due to their indefinite boycott of Parliament.

President John Agyekum Kufuor signed it into law on February 24.

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