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Protesters Clash With Police In Ghana

(File, Sunday Alamba, AP)

Police in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Wednesday fired teargas and rubber bullets to bar opposition protesters from the headquarters of the Electoral Commission (EC) to demand a new electoral roll, police sources and witnesses said.

At least 30 people, including members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), were detained briefly for violating a court injunction that barred the marchers from entering the offices of the EC, Police spokesperson Cephas Arthur said.

The NPP last month asked the electoral body to create a new voter's register before elections next year, saying it had evidence that the current electoral roll was bloated with ineligible voters, including the names of Togolese nationals.

The claims have touched off a wider debate within the West African country's polarised political system and helped trigger Wednesday's demonstration by the opposition to force the EC to heed its call.

Witnesses said some demonstrators were injured in the clash as they fled from hot water canons discharged by dozens of anti-riot police.

"It started off very well but in the course of the march they (protesters) veered off the agreed route and were heading apparently to the EC office, so the police decided to stop them," Arthur said.

The police had filed an injunction in court to keep the planned march to routes agreed between them and the organisers.

But a member of the organising team said there would be another march soon to drive home their demands.

"The police might have succeeded in ending the protest march prematurely by their expression of unreasonable brute force, but...we are not backing down on our request today or tomorrow," said David Asante, lead organiser of the march.

President John Mahama is seeking a second term in next year's election in what is expected to be a tight contest between him and the NPP's Nana Akufo Addo.

Ghana, which exports cocoa, gold and oil, is also seen as a model of stable democracy and rule of law in a region that had been afflicted with political unrests in the past.

The country's judicial authorities have interdicted some 22 junior judges, pending an investigation into alleged acts of bribery captured on video by an investigative journalist.
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