Political violence

2 09 2008

Ghana is holding its presidential election in December. I’ve been aware of that since I arrived, with the background noise of rallies and political posturing in the media and on the streets. To make it more interesting the current president, Dr Kufuor, has reached the end of his 2 term limit so can’t stand and the ruling party (the New Patriotic Party or NPP) had to choose a replacement. This got a little acrimonious as 18 candidates jostled for position in noisy and seemingly chaotic rallies up and down the country. Finally a candidate was chosen in December (Nana Akufo-Addo) and one of the unsuccessful candidates (Alan “Cash” Kyerematen) stormed out of the party in a huff.

My first experience of Ghanaian politics was seeing bus loads of supporters for one of the NPP candidates arriving for a rally here in Tamale last November. There were people shouting, drumming and dancing, as well as clinging to over crowded buses decked with flags and banners and driving motorbikes recklessly, every horn blowing, in an extravagant display of support for their candidate. Since then Tamale has been alternately decked out in the different party’s colours as each has visited to hold rallies. These tend to be big, exuberant affairs with supporters bussed in from miles around, flooding the town and all wearing t-shirts with their candidates face on, waving flags and beating drums, noisy but good natured.

VSO advises us to avoid political rallies, but up until this weekend I felt the biggest danger the rallies posed was the wild and reckless driving of the supporters, weaving motorbikes far too fast between traffic, hooting their horns and waving big flags. Sadly this weekend that changed. Tamale, and the north generally, predominantly supports the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party (all of Tamale’s MPs are NDC). On Sunday the NPP held a rally in the centre of Tamale for their visiting vice-presidential candidate. There is some debate as to exactly what happened, but shots were fired into the air, allegedly by NDC supporters, and several motorbikes were burnt as the rally descended into fighting between party supporters. No-one was seriously hurt in Tamale but that evening 6 people were killed in fighting in a town northeast of Tamale and quite a lot of NDC property was destroyed in arson attacks, homes, offices and vehicles were burnt, allegedly in retaliation for the Tamale incident. Each party is blaming the other and everyone is blaming the security services. The press and authorities are treating it extremely seriously with military patrols in Tamale and other parts of the northern region apparently (I haven’t ventured into town since).





2 responses

3 09 2008

me gusta mucho tu blog t visito todos los dias. visita el mio y si t gusta el mio deja un comentarios e intercambiamos links

5 09 2008
Barry Williams

Sorry to read about election violence in Ghana. It sounds like the United States in the era when bombings and lynchings took place to prevent blacks from voting. Perhaps Ghanaians should learn the new American way of stuffing ballot boxes, closing down polling places early, moving voting places to a new location without telling anyone, and getting court backing to pick a particular candidate.

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