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Soldiers enter Ghana parliament to break up MPs embroiled in heated misunderstanding

Hours after Washington, DC, was hit with a pro-Trump riot that resulted in four deaths and dozens of injuries, soldiers in Ghana were called to parliament to break up MPs at odds during an overnight vote to determine the country’s new speaker.

Images show a large group of politicians enraged – some with their fists clenched in the air – after a member of the president’s New Patriotic Party (NPP) tried to seize the ballot box while votes were still being counted, Reuters reports.

Why the NPP member became so enraged was not immediately clear, a source present said. Eventually, though, Alban Bagbin, who belongs to the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Ghana’s other major political party, was named speaker.

The unrest, which took place just hours before Nana Akufo-Addo was due to be sworn in as president of the West African country for a second term, is thought to be the result of tensions that came out of the 7 December election.

Last month’s vote resulted in a hung parliament, meaning there was no dominant party to decide the appointment of a speaker and other key posts.

Footage on local television showed Ghanaian politicians, many of whom were unmasked, pushing and shoving before around 20 soldiers were summoned to the Chamber.

Dozens of MPs – all of different ranks, according to Reuters – then faced each other and began chanting over a dividing line of masked soldiers and police. Photographs reveal how animated the scenes got, with security guards appearing to look on in disbelief from the sidelines.

Scenes like this are rare in Ghana, a major cocoa and gold producer, which is considered one of West Africa’s greatest examples of a functioning democracy.

“There was a total breakdown of law and order,” MP-elect Kwame Twumasi Ampofo, of the NDC party, told the BBC on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the NDC’s losing presidential candidate, John Mahama, spoke out on Facebook. “The attempt to snatch ballot papers… and the invasion of the Chamber by armed military personnel are images one had never expected to see in our 4th Republican Parliament,” he said in a post.

Mr Mahama also congratulated Mr Bagbin, the newly-instated speaker, saying: “Congratulations Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin on your election as the Speaker of the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic.”

Despite the incident taking place mere hours before president Akufo-Addo’s inauguration, the leader was successfully sworn into office for his second term just before 3pm GMT.

Dignitaries from across Africa were due to attend the ceremony.

Mr Akufo-Addo came out on top of last month’s election with 51.59 per cent of the vote, ahead of Mr Mahama – Ghana’s president for five years from 2012-2017 – who took 47.37 per cent.


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