Ghana protesters demanding new electoral roll clash with police

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ACCRA, Sept 16 (Reuters) – Police in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Wednesday fired tear gas and rubber bullets to bar opposition protesters from the headquarters of the Electoral Commission (EC) to demand a new electoral roll, police sources and eyewitnesses 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 spokesman 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 polarized political system and helped trigger Wednesday’s demonstration by the opposition to force the EC to heed its call.

Eyewitnesses 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 organizer of the march.