Flagstaff House Demo ‘Takes Off’
A planned demonstration that would have attracted thousands of people to picket in front of the President’s Office in Accra, has reportedly been thwarted by the police.
A group calling itself Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance, with one Nana Akwasi Awuah as the convener, had said his group had wanted to use the Republic Day to draw President John Dramani Mahama and his government’s attention to the harsh economic conditions prevailing in the country.
The group said the current energy crisis, high utility tariffs coupled with the shortage of petrol in the country among other things, were unacceptable.
‘We feel that we will be better heard at the doorsteps of power [the Flagstaff House] than anywhere else,’ he said.
Just as things were shaping up, another group which is apparently sympathetic to the government, has also announced its intention to demonstrate in what looks like a counter demonstration; and that has compelled the police to refuse permit for all the proposed demonstrations today July 1 – Republic Day.
The NDC group, called One Thousand Man March, is said to be led by one Koku Mawuli Nanegbeh.
DSP Freeman Tettey, the Greater Accra Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Police Service, told Accra-based radio station, Joy FM that for a ‘litany of reasons’ today’s demonstration would not be allowed to come off and added that the police had proposed that organisers of both events reschedule their dates and venues.
He said the security would be overstretched on Republic Day as it would deploy ‘a lot of personnel and resources for other equally important engagements.’
‘The police will use all legal means possible to stop the demonstrations and take action against recalcitrant persons,’ DSP Freeman Tettey warned.
The Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance had said it wanted to put pressure on the President to take action to solve the worsening economic situation in the country instead of resorting to what it called ‘kneejerk reactions.’
In spite of the police ban, the pro-NDC group insisted they would converge on the Flagstaff House to show solidarity with President Mahama and use the march to encourage Ghanaians to patronise made-in-Ghana goods.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Police Service had as at press time last night, finally granted permission to the Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance to go ahead with the protest today, but the venue had been changed.
A press statement issued by the convener of the march, Akwasi Awuah, yesterday indicated that, ‘The Ghana Police Service and Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance (CGRG) have agreed that come tomorrow July 1, 2014, the protest dubbed ‘Occupy Flagstaff House’ or ‘Occupy Flagstaff’ and the presentation of a petition to H.E. John Dramani Mahama, will take place as planned.’
It further indicated that ‘the only alteration to the event is that Ghanaians will converge on the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park at 6 am instead of the Flag Staff House.’
‘We are not demonstrating. We don’t need a police permit. We are calling for a march,’ Koku Mawuli told the radio station and explained that Ghanaians needed to support the President in view of Ghana’s economic hardship.
‘We are in difficult times; I am not going to run away from that. [But] we have to bear with him. He needs support to be able to deliver’.
But Dela Cofie, a member of the NDC communication team, is completely against the counter demonstration by the NDC group.
‘It is completely foolhardy on the part of those organising the rival public action against the ‘ â€ª#â€ŽOccupyFlagStaffHouse ‘ group.
‘If you guys really loved the President as you want us to believe, you would have realised that your show of solidarity is a non-starter.
‘Every right-thinking Ghanaian knows very well that the Flagstaff House is a security installation and no-go area for any public manifestation. I’m certain state security is on top of the situation, and they will discharge their duties to the state without any fear or favour.
‘Any counter demonstration in support of the President on the same day that his accusers are holding theirs is just farcical to say the least. It is more like handing your critics a rod for your own back.
‘JM does not need another bad publicity in the midst of all the turbulences and the challenges.
‘Let the people hold their picketing. It is their constitutional right. JM supporters can hold their own on another day.
‘It will not change the fact that JM is still the President of the Republic of Ghana; and that he’s doing his best to find solutions to the numerous challenges facing us as a nation.
‘God save the king!!!,’ he wrote on his facebook wall.
By William Yaw Owusu
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