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Police arrest two demonstrators

(MFWA/IFEX) - Two activists of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) were arrested on October 5, 2011 by the Greater Accra Regional Command of the Ghana Police Service for allegedly breaching the country's laws by organizing a demonstration without police permission.

The two activists, Hajia Sherifatu Sulley and Hajia Fati Alhassan, who led hundreds of NDC supporters on October 4 to demand the dismissal of Colonel Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, the national security coordinator, were granted a self-cognizance bail after their caution statements were taken.

According to Hajia Sulley, their action was not a public demonstration but an internal action to petition the party leadership about the activities of Col Gbevlo-Lartey, which they said were not in the interest of the party in the Volta Region, a stronghold of the NDC.

"We met the Regional police commander on Monday (October 3) to discuss our intended demonstration; she told us we could not go on the demonstration because we needed to serve notice five days before the demonstration. We agreed and informed our members outside Accra about the development," Hajia Sulley told Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).

However, they decided to peacefully transport their members in Accra to the NDC headquarters to petition the party leadership about their grievances.

Meanwhile, the Greater Accra Regional Police Command has dismissed the activists' claim. According to ASP Zenge Cyprian, the Public Relations Officer, the action of the group amounted to breaching Section 491 of the Public Order Act.

"The action of Hajia Sherifatu and her people does not fall under the category of 'special events' that does not require the permission of the police", ASP Cyprian insisted in an interview with MFWA.

Clampdowns on demonstrations are becoming common in Ghana. On September 21, 22 protestors were arrested and detained overnight at the headquarters of Ghana's intelligence agency, the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI), for allegedly participating in an illegal demonstration. They have since been charged with two counts of participating in an "illegal demonstration" and "unlawful assembly". The matter remains under investigation.

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