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16.03.2006 General News

Roundup: Concerned Ghanaians call for repeal of ROPAL


EDS: Adds details, quotes from rally

Accra, March 16, GNA - Opposition parties that took part in the third demonstration against the Representation of People (Amendment) Law (ROPAL) on Thursday repeated their call on the Government to withdraw the Law, saying they would not relent until the Law would was repealed. Addressing a crowd at the Mantse Agbonaa Park in Accra, after a peaceful demonstration through some principal streets in the Metropolis, the Leaders claimed that the Act was illegal and part of grand scheme of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to rig future elections. The ROPAL gives power to Ghanaians resident outside to vote in their countries of abode.

Two earlier demonstrations had been staged against the passage of the Act, which was recently given a Presidential assent. The demonstration, which was organised under the umbrella group called Concerned Ghanaians. The law was passed by Parliament after the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) had boycotted sittings. The first two demonstrations were held when the Bill had not been passed by Parliament.

Among Leaders in the march were Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, the flag-bearer of the NDC in Election 2004; Dr Kwabena Adjei, National Chairman of the NDC and Mr Bernard Mornah, Youth Organiser of the People's National Convention (PNC); Mr Danny Ofori Atta of the EGLE Party; Madam Ama Benyiwa Doe, NDC Women Organiser; Alhaji Mohammed Ramadan of the PNC and Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, Former Defence Minister under the NDC Administration.

Prof. Atta Mills, whose statement climaxed the demonstration, said the demonstration was also against the harsh economic conditions in the country, and wondered if the 2000 Elections that brought the Kufuor Administration into power were illegitimate without the Diasporan votes. "We want a Government that is sensitive to the demands of Ghanaians. Enough is enough." Dr Adjei said the leaders would ensure that the Law would not be implemented, while Alhaji Iddrisu said President Kufuor was for president of the country and not only the NPP, which necessitated that he listened to the voice of all Ghanaians to ensure peace.

Alhaji Ramadan of the PNC said Ghanaians were determined to resist anything that would go against their interest. He drew attention to the fact that most of the crisis in neighbouring countries were as result of electoral disputes and wondered if people, who were not known in the country, could be allowed to cast their votes. "We'll make sure 2008 would be the last day for the NPP."

Mr Mornah said the people of Ghana would make sure the ROPAL did not stay in the Laws books of Ghana. Madam Benyiwa Doe said the enactment of the Law was rushed because it was illegal and urged the Government to rather use resources to stem the brain drain.

All the speakers commended the Police for their co-operation during the march. The Police ensured that no road was blocked during the march. Half the roads were open to traffic while the marchers used the other half. The marchers clad mostly in red went through Farisco Junction, Kojo Thompson Road Traffic Lights, TUC Traffic Lights, National Theatre Traffic Lights, Ministries Traffic Lights, High Street/Hearts Park, High Street/Bank of Ghana, Usher Fort, Customs/Light House and ended at Mantse Agbona Park.

The Marchers also praised Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Kofi Boakye, Commander of Operations at the Police Headquarters for the orderly supervision of the demonstration. ACP Boakye told the Ghana News Agency that there was peace during the demonstration because the Police and the Marchers were able to forge compromises and accommodated each other. No tyres were burnt, because the Police negotiated and collected them at the Holy Gardens before the demonstrators hit the streets.