Guide demonstrations with decorum!

On Tuesday, pressure group Arise Ghana started a three-day demonstration over what the organisers describe as the hardship in the country.

At their maiden press conference on May 25, 2022, the leaders expressed displeasure over worsening economic conditions, draconian taxes, capture or grabbing of state lands, high cost of fuel and maladministration that was gradually making Ghana a failed state.

 Arise Ghana also demanded an immediate reduction in fuel prices through the scrapping of crippling fuel taxes such as the sanitation levy.

Besides, the group demanded that the government should not only withdraw Executive Instrument number 144 (EI 144)signed in May this year and end the land grabbing at theAchimota Forest Reserve, but also repeal the Electronic Transaction LevyAct 2022 (Act 1075) that has led to the operation of the E-Levy in the country.

The reasons given are noble for the demonstration originally planned for June 21 but had to be postponed for the group and the police to settle certain issues related to it.

In fact the right to protestor demonstrate over a goodcauseis essential in any democracy because it becomes a means for people to express dissatisfaction with current situations and assert demands for social, political, and economic changes.

The good changes that follow demonstrations come to benefit the whole society.

Therefore, if the Akufo-Addo government can respond to the demands of Arise Ghana, especially those relating to high prices of goods and services in the face of the global economic crises, the demonstrators would become heroes.

It should be noted by Arise Ghana and demonstrators everywhere that precaution is important in acts and remarks or pronouncements during demonstrations because demonstrations basically should be peaceful so resolutions and petitions can easily be presented to the authorities that be and also attract public sympathy.

Even though the protestors presented their petition at the Ministry of Finance yesterday, the pandemonium that erupted on Tuesday at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, where the demonstrators had gathered and moved later, was in bad taste.

Media reports had it that the police clashed with the protestors over the route they should use.

While the protestors insisted on using the Ring Road Central (Circle to the Ako-AdjeiInterchange, formerly Sankara Circle) to picket at the Jubilee House, the police said the demonstrators should use the court-approved route, the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue through the Farisco Traffic Lights to the Trades Union Congress office on the Boundary Road onwards to the Black Star Square through the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, where a team of policemen were waiting to coordinate the demonstration.

That was rejected by the protestors, who insisted using their preferred Ring Road Central to go and picket at the Jubilee House and present a petition to the Presidency.

Before, the issue could be resolved, one of the demonstratorsthrew a stone at the police and other stones followed.

The riot control police team, who were fully equipped with glass shields, tear gas, pepper spray, hot water cannons and rubber bullets, responded by firing tear gas at the demonstrators-turned-mob.

In the process, 12 policemen sustained varying degrees of injury just as scores of the demonstrators did.

The Ghanaian Times vehemently condemns the action of the demonstrators because in the first place, the police were there to ensure security, law and order, all in the interest of peace.

The condemnation is hinged on the fact that there is a history of demonstrations that have turned violent with the police always defending themselves after trying hard to calm nerves but demonstrators have made them targets rather than seeing them as peace officers.

It is hard to believe the claim by the organisers of the demonstration that the stone throwers were agent provocateurs planted by some faceless people to paint them and fellow demonstrators in bad light.

This assertion is in itself shameful because the organisers are running away from their inaction, which led to the chaos.

What prevented them from warning their followers against any such act if they could have the courage to give the IGP an ultimatum to produce in 24 hours the so-called agent provocateur who threw the first stone, “otherwise he must resign”?

The amount of stones seen at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle shows that the stone-throwing was planned because it was difficult to gather that great number of stones from the place.

It was intriguing the demonstrators commended the police yesterday for being professional after accusing them of allowing the violent spirit of President Akufo-Addoto infect them to behave violently on Tuesday while ignoring their own negative behaviour.

The Ghanaian Times would always support demonstrations because they provide the avenue for expressing different views in a democracy but is totally against the unspeakable words spewed against the country’s leaders and workers of public institutions, especially when some of the demonstrators have their eyes on state power.

Demonstrators should raise issues and avoid insults.

Do onto others what you would have them to do to you.

Ghana needs peace to develop and so everyone, whether a demonstrator, a policeman or any other citizen, should guard against the peace and stability in the country in spite of the economic hardships.



 

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