Chaos at Ghana’s parliament as lawmakers exchange blows

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Ghanaians lawmakers exchanged blows during the dissolution of the seventh parliament Wednesday night.

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

Some of the lawmakers were seen scampering for safety in the ensuing chaos.

In one of the footages, a lawmaker was punched by opposition but rescued by his colleagues.

A female lawmaker was also seen pushing one of her male counterparts aggressively.

It was gathered that mayhem erupted after a lawmaker from the ruling party tried to seize the ballot box during the vote for parliament speaker.

The ensuing clash lasted several hours until the army moved in, with national television broadcasting the drama live.

After order was resumed, the legislature narrowly chose someone from opposition ranks to be speaker – a first in Ghana’s nearly 63-year post-independence history.

Samuel Abu Jinapor, an MP-elect with Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party, described the scenes as a “complete mess”.

The NPP won 137 seats in the 275-member parliament, after shedding 32 in the election, leaving it equal to the 137 held by the NDC.

A lone independent won the remaining seat.

On Wednesday, an NDC MP was ordered suspended on legal grounds because he had dual nationality, which in theory brought the opposition’s ranks down to 136.

However, he insisted on casting his vote on Thursday morning, a move that sparked further scuffles and chaos.

The ballot for speaker was won by the NDC’s Alban Bagbin by 138 votes to 136 — the outcome of one vote that was rejected as spoilt, and another that was probably cast in his favour by a member of the NPP.

Despite the historic choice, many legislators said the chaos had cast a dark shadow.

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

The new parliament is split down the middle between the two main parties, posing the risk of gridlock on tackling Ghana’s problems.

President Nana Akufo-Addo, who narrowly won re-election in the December 7 vote for the legislature and head of state, was also to be sworn in today.

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