Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Crowd overwhelm Security as Mills is sworn in

As thousands of people gathered at the Independence Square in Accra on Wednesday to watch the new President John Evans Atta Mills take office, the security arrangements made for the day almost collapsed as
the security operatives and personnel assigned to ensure orderliness were overrun by the sheer numbers of the jubilant crowd who thronged the Square.
     The ceremony, which was marked with pomp, pageantry and colour, attracted a milling crowd consisting of most National Democratic Congress (NDC) functionaries and supporters draped in the party's colours of black, red, white and green to the Square that burst at its seams from the east, west,
north and even southwards as many trooped to savour the first formal address of newly-sworn in President.The flanks of the Square brimmed with supporters resplendent in party paraphernalia, cheering at party notables.
     But as President Atta Mills took to the dais to give his inaugural address, the crowd abandoned their holding area and surged on the inner parameter close to the presidential dais to get a closer view of what one supporter shouted "our beloved President"."Leave us to celebrate our president, the man has struggled to get to where he is now; we want him to see that we are happy for him," an emotionally charged supporter said.
     The police, clearly outnumbered by the crowd, found it tough bringing the surging crowd under control. And at a point the security collapsed. The Police at this point were compelled to hit people, young and old, male and female, with sticks and truncheons to drive them away from the middle of the grounds.
     "It is not like the security arrangement was poor. We did not anticipate the large crowd that converged on the grounds," said DSP. Kwesi Ofori,Director of Public Affairs of the Police Service.   "But you can see that we have contained the situation, and we have also done our best to ensure that nothing untoward happened here," he told the
Ghana News Agency.
     "The security arrangement was not satisfactory to me. I mean it was so problematic. Next time it should be done well," said Dt Benjamin Kumbuor, out-going MP for Laura/Nandom.
     The Rev. Fred Deegbe, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, said the ceremony was impressive "but the security arrangement left
much to be desired".
     But the crowd who were pleased at being allowed to an area perceived as "first class" had a different opinion of the situation.
    "Me, I don't think the security was flawed. At least they were magnanimous to allow us to also get close to our President…They couldn't
have done otherwise," said Mawuli Dovlo, a resident of Hohoe in the Volta Region who had come all the way to Accra to witness the occasion.

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