14 December 2012

Ghana: Journalists Face Series of Attacks By Opposition Supporters

Source: Media Foundation for West Africa

Days after Ghana's general elections, large groups of aggrieved supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the main opposition party, violently assaulted journalists and destroyed valuable property.

The first of the attacks happened on December 9, 2012, when a mob of NPP sympathisers chased and vandalised a vehicle conveying a crew from the privately-owned television station Metro TV to the NPP's office in Osu, a suburb of Accra.

In an interview with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Shirley Kwarley Quartey, a reporter for the television station, said they had gone to the party's office to cover a press briefing organised by the leadership of the party. Upon arrival, however, the visibly angry supporters rushed at them and ordered them to leave immediately, smashing their vehicle's windscreen in the process.

In a separate incident on December 10, a different group of NPP supporters who had gathered in front of the Nima-based residence of Nana Akufo Addo, the party's flag-bearer, attacked and assaulted a group of journalists from the privately-owned Joy FM.

The journalists, who were travelling in a Joy FM-branded vehicle, were following the convoy of the African Union Chairman, President of the Republic of Benin, Yayi Boni, which was heading to the flag-bearer's house for a meeting.

Manasseh Azuri, a member of the crew, told the MFWA that as soon as the angry supporters - who were also wielding sticks - saw their vehicle, they pounced on it, hit it several times and ordered the journalists to step out, despite the high security presence.

"They smashed the headlights and, but for the timely intervention of the security officers, we would have been lynched," Azuri said.

In a related development, journalists Emmanuel Anteh and Stephen Boadi, from privately-owned Joy FM and TV3, respectively, were physically assaulted while covering a rally organised by the NPP on December 11, 2012 at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, the capital.

The two journalists were trying to get information about the alleged stabbing of a supporter of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), when they were reportedly ambushed by a group of NPP supporters, who molested and slapped them.

The MFWA condemns these attacks and calls on the leadership of the NPP to instruct their supporters to desist from any harassment of media personnel conducting their normal functions.

We call on the security agencies to provide security to media persons covering political activities, and bring to book anyone who attacks the media.

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