Police beat, arrest Let My Vote Count protesters

Police beat, arrest Let My Vote Count protesters
Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Isaac Essel | Twitter: @isaacessel
Date: 16-09-2015 Time: 01:09:46:pm
Gabby Otchere-Darko showing his stripes

Some of the Let My Vote Count Alliance protesters have been beaten and others arrested by the Police for allegedly using unapproved routes in their march to demand a new electoral roll.

The police fired tear gas and beat protesters with horse whips in attempts to cow them into submission.

A leading member of the opposition New Patriotic Party, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko was beaten with baton and horse whips.

The police suspected the protesters were trying to deviate from the planned route and where heading to the Electoral Commission. The police secured a court order yesterday to stop the protesters from going to the Commission's premises to picket.

Joy News’ Kwakye Afreh Nuamah reports that about 20 protesters, including the convener David Asante, have been arrested as the situation turns chaotic.

Narrating his ordeal to Joy News, Gabby said he heard someone commanding the security personnel to arrest him. One police officer grabbed his hand but he lifted both hands while being taken away to indicate his readiness to cooperate with them, he said.

But “one [security officer] came from nowhere to beat me up”, he told Joy News.

He later twitted: "Whiles in police custody, another police officer walked to me to lash me with horse whip. Later, another two attacked me with batons."

What was planned to be a peaceful protest by the Let My Vote Count Alliance has been marred by a strong disagreement between police and protesters over march route.

The protesters had opposed vehemently a last minute decision by the police to change their final converging point.

The group had initially planned to picket around the Electoral Commission but that was cancelled by the court order.

The protesters are unhappy claiming the police told them the new final converging point would be the Independence Square only on Wednesday morning. This is about 2.5km from the Electoral Commission.

Convener of the group, David Asante earlier condemned the “flip-flop” posture of the police.

 Joy News’ Kwakye Afreh Nuamah who has been following the protesters said when the protest started at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, who has to lead the protest was even a subject of disagreement between the police and protesters.

“There was confusion galore,” Afreh observed.

David Asante explained that the police are usually expected to walk side by side and guard the protesters. Rather the police want to be in front and direct them on the route to take, he said.

“We will resist any attempt by the police to lead us,” David Asante furiously said about an hour before the group clashed with the police.

There were some compromises on the final converging point, Afreh gathered, as thousands of protesters, mainly from the opposition New Patriotic Party proceeded with the exercise.

They were expected to present their petition to the Electoral Commission at the Square, demanding that the Commission compile a new voter’s register for the 2016 general elections.

However, when the protesters got to Adabraka near the Trade Union Congress, confusion broke out with some of the protesters trying to find their way to the Electoral Commission building which is a walking distance away.

But the police would have none of that resulting in confrontation. The police had to use force to maintain order as the protest got rowdy.

The protest has ended abruptly with heavily armed police personnel taking over roads leading to the Electoral Commission.