Ghana army steps in to quell parliament clash

Ghana stands out as a stable democracy in volatile West Africa, although the elections were marked by opposition accusations of fraud and five people died in the violence. /Nipah Dennis/AFP

Ghanaian soldiers intervened overnight to quell a clash between opposing parties in parliament ahead of the body’s swearing-in set for Thursday, witnesses said.

Ghana stands out as a stable democracy in volatile West Africa, although the elections were marked by opposition accusations of fraud and five people died in the violence. /Nipah Dennis/AFP

Chaotic scenes erupted after a governing party deputy tried to seize the ballot box during the vote for parliament speaker. The ensuing clash lasted several hours until the army stepped in, with national television broadcasting the drama live.

“There was total breakdown of law and order,” said MP-elect Kwame Twumasi Ampofo of the opposition National Democratic Congress. “Looking at a member of parliament and a minister of state snatching ballot papers … was so shameful.”

The new parliament will be virtually split down the middle between the two main parties, posing the risk of gridlock with key issues on the agenda including how to turn around an economy hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ghana stands out as a stable democracy in volatile West Africa, although the elections were marked by opposition accusations of fraud and five people died in the violence.

Observers, both Ghanaian and foreign, viewed the polling as generally free and fair, but some controversies remain over the work of the electoral commission.

More than a dozen opposition MPs were charged with unlawful gathering on Monday after protesting against the election results.

Footage from the overnight confrontation in parliament showed some of the legislators shouting and brawling with rivals.

(With input from agencies)