Opposition lawmakers clashed on the floor of Ghana’s parliament in Accra on Wednesday night, prompting a military intervention by at least 20 Ghanaian soldiers, Africa News reported on Thursday.
Footage of the hours-long brawl broadcast live on Ghanaian state television showed legislators “pushing and shoving” each other before nearly two dozen soldiers entered the parliament chamber to try and restore order.
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“Ranks of MPs [members of parliament] then faced each other and chanted over a dividing line of masked soldiers and police,” according to the report.
“In one of the footages, a lawmaker was punched by opposition but rescued by his colleagues [sic],” Nigeria’s Punch newspaper reported on Thursday.
“A female lawmaker was also seen pushing one of her male counterparts aggressively,” according to Punch.
Prior to the chaotic outburst, Ghanaian legislators had been voting to choose the West African nation’s next parliamentary speaker. The fighting erupted after a lawmaker from Ghana’s ruling, right-wing New Patriotic Party (NPP) allegedly “tried to seize the ballot box,” according to Africa News.
“There was total breakdown of law and order,” Ghanaian Minister of Parliament-elect Kwame Twumasi Ampofo told Agence France-Presse of the melee.
“Looking at a member of parliament and a minister of state snatching ballot papers. … was so shameful,” the opposition lawmaker added.
After Ghanaian security forces restored order to the parliament chamber on Wednesday, the legislature elected a member of the country’s opposition party, the left-wing National Democratic Congress (NDC), as Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament. Veteran Ghanaian politician Alban Bagbin made history as Ghana’s first Speaker of Parliament not selected by the country’s ruling party. The feat was “a first in Ghana’s nearly 63-year post-independence history,” according to Punch.
Ghana’s general election last month “left a hung parliament, without a dominant party to push through the appointment of speaker and other key posts,” Reuters noted on Thursday. The presidential election saw NPP leader Nana Akufo-Addo declared the winner with 51.59 percent of the vote, ahead of his opponent and former Ghanaian President John Mahama. The December 7 election results were disputed by opposition leader Mahama. Lingering tension over the vote contributed to Wednesday’s brawl in parliament.
The Ghanaian Police Service said on December 9 that “five people had been killed from electoral violence” following the release of the general election’s results. “Twenty-one of the incidents are true cases of electoral violence, six of which involve gunshots resulting in the death of five,” the federal security force said.