Police used unreasonable, brute force against defenceless protesters – LMVCA convener

Organisers of Wednesday’s protest in Accra to demand a new voters’ register have accused the police of using “unreasonable, brute force” to crush the protest.

Thousands of protesters joined the Let My Vote Count Alliance march to demand that the Electoral Commission compiles a new voters’ register for the 2016 general elections since the current one is bloated.

Hours into the protest, the marchers clashed with the police over the route they wanted to use. The protesters had wanted to go to the Electoral Commission’s premises to present their petition, but having secured an injunction from the court, the police resisted this.

With a stalemate lingering, the police resorted to the use of water cannons, batons, rubber bullet, tear gas among others to disperse the agitated crowd.

At leat 20 of the protesters were beaten and arrested in the melee .

Convener of the group, David Asante, in a statement, condemned the actions of the police, describing today’s event as a “sad day for Ghana”.

“Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing warranted such excessive use of force as applied by the Police on the peaceful protest march of the harmless members of LMVCA, MFC, AFAG and several other groups and associations.”

Below is the full statement

SAD DAY FOR GHANA
Today is yet another sad day for Ghana. The State Police, who are paid from our taxes and supposed to provide security and protect lives, are the very ones that turned around to unleash violence on us.

Nothing and absolutely nothing warranted such excessive use of force as applied by the Police on the peaceful protest march of the armless members of LMVCA, MFC, AFAG and several other trade groups and associations.

The only crime of these Ghanaians perhaps is that, we want the Electoral Commission to discard the 2012 biometric voters’ register and compile a fresh credible one for the 2016 elections.

What can be wrong or unlawful with this harmless demand? The whole world witnessed what happened.

The Let My Vote Count Alliance and its allied civic groups consider the highhandedness of the police in today’s protest march, a threat to our democracy that must be quickly checked and not allowed to become the order.

The Police might have succeeded in ending the protest march albeit prematurely by their expression of unreasonable brute force, but let them know that our spirits are fired up because we know our demand is just. Many of our colleagues have been physically manhandled, sustained various degrees of injury and bleeding. Others collapsed because they could not stand the strong smell from the 20 or so canisters fired by the police.

We are not backing down on our request today or tomorrow. The Ghana Police must be made to understand that, they might have the might of the guns and other fire arms, but they are certainly not mightier than the collective will of the people.

If this is how the Police is going to manage the processes leading up to the 2016 elections, then Ghanaians should brace themselves because they have clearly shown us their intentions.

We would to however send a strong warning that, we will resist every form of oppression so long as our demand is just.

…Signed…
David Asante
(Convener)
Watch some photos of the encounter here


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