Kweku Baako recounts what led to chaos at ‘Kume Preko’ demo
Kweku Baako recounts what led to chaos at 'Kume Preko' demo
Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr, has commented on the clash between Arise Ghana protesters and officers of the Ghana Police Service on June 28.
Speaking on the discussion segment of ‘Kokroko’ on Peace FM, the veteran journalist said he was disappointed at the turn of events on the day because he had hoped a hitch-free process will result and by extension, project the country’s democratic credentials.
He said even though the right to demonstrate and participate in processions were unrestricted in the constitution, the Public Order Act was introduced to regulate it.
Narrating how the current Public Order Act was formulated, Kweku Baako recalled how a Supreme Court judgment in the case involving the IGP and the New Patriotic Party between 1993 and 1994 quashed the Public Order decree (1972) which empowered the police to be ‘abusing’ the right to grant or deny permission for public events.
He said, that formed the basis for which the then Parliament enacted the current Public Order Act in which a major change was that protesters submit just a notification to the Police to embark on a demonstration.
In his view, one of the major tests for the Public Order Act, when it came into force, was the Kume Preko demonstration – arguably the biggest political demonstration in the 4th Republic.
“Go back to Kume Preko, as one of the major test [of the Public Order Act]. We notified the police and they agreed. Just around that corner ACDR (a pro-government group) also sent a letter to the police saying they will also embark on a demonstration same day [as ours].
“The police looked at their letter and said it is dated 9th and you said you want to hold the demonstration on 11th…it doesn’t meet the 5-day requirement of notice to the police and also we [police] have granted permission to AFC to hold a demonstration on 11th so stay off.
“ACDR declined saying they have to show the government is still popular. The police said we don’t have that agreement with you and so that day [11th May] we don’t want to see you people out there.
“Come the day May 11th, when people have started gathering in bits for the demonstration, the police hierarchy called AFC that ‘alarm blow’. What is the alarm blow? I think Wereko Brobbey, Kwesi Pratt, Sheshey or Victor Newman may have gone to meet them.
“They called us so we selected those who should go. When they went, they were informed that ACDR had defied the police instructions and had positioned themselves in different spots so they wanted us to change route.
“We had discussed routing and everything with the police already. It was on the morning of the demonstration when we had advertised the demonstration route to the public that the police were now asking AFC leadership to change route. It was with difficulty that we agreed.
“We came back to place and it was crowded. You know with demonstrations people join from different points at every point you reach so the announcement we made at the convergence point at Circle, not everybody heard it.
“Timing of the change created problems and it is part of the ‘things’ that happened. When we were going, some of the crowd who had joined from different corners only knew about the original route. So they went and met the ACDR and castle security guys. It was at this point that the was total chaos happened”
The Kume Preko demonstration was a protest against Jerry John Rawlings administration on May 11, 1995, as hundreds of young and old people, responded to calls for demonstrations in opposition to the Value Added Tax (VAT) initiative.
The demonstration was initially billed as a peaceful protest but quickly became violent when unidentified assailants shot live bullets into the crowd resulting in the deaths of some of the protestors.
Those at the forefront of this protest were Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (Now the President of Ghana), Dr. Charles Wereko Brobbey (Politician), Kwasi Pratt Jnr (Journalist), Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe (Politician), Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako (Journalist), Akoto Ampaw (Lawyer), Victor Newman (Politician), Kwaku Opoku (Politician), Napoleon Abdulai (Politician) and Agyiri Blankson (Politician).