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Opposition party sympathiser arrested for calling President Mills a "chimpanzee"

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 24 May 2010, Alexander Adu Gyamfi, a sympathizer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), was arrested by the police in Kumasi, Ghana's second largest city, for describing the country's president as a "chimpanzee" during a radio discussion programme.

Gyamfi, who is popularly known as "High Priest", made the remark while serving as a panelist on the morning show on the Kumasi-based station Fox FM.

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The police said during Gyamfi's arrest that his detention was in his own interest and aimed to protect him from angry NDC youth who had besieged the radio station to register their displeasure following his "insulting" comments. Chief Inspector Mohammed Tanko, the Ashanti Regional Public Relations Officer of the Police, who was speaking on Joy FM radio station, said "We did not arrest him for insulting the President. We arrested him for offensive conduct contrary to section 207 of Ghana's Criminal Code".

Meanwhile, Gyamfi, who is currently on police enquiry bail and was to be charged with "offensive conduct" under Section 207 of the Criminal Code, has been absolved of any crime following the intervention of President John Atta Mills.

At a news conference in Kumasi on 26 May, the regional Commander, DCOP Patrick Timbilla, quoted President Mills as saying "he is not interested" in the matter as he is focused on his "Better Agenda" programme for the country. DCOP Timbilla therefore said all charges against Gyamfi have been dropped.

This is the second time that the police have arrested an NPP activist over comments made on air. On 18 February, Nana Darkwa was arrested by the police and remanded in prison custody for two weeks over comments he made on a radio station allegedly accusing Ghana's former president Jerry John Rawlings of setting fire to burn his (Rawlings's) own house. The case is currently in court.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has observed the rampant use of insulting and abusive language by individuals, political party functionaries and government officials in both the print and electronic media and considers this inappropriate and unprofessional since the practice has the tendency to undermine responsible media freedom in particular and freedom of expression in general.

MFWA, however, adds its voice to the widespread condemnation of the police in this latest arrest. The organisation condemns the actions of the NDC youth who besieged the premises of the radio station.

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    Nana Darkwa was arrested for allegedly implicating Ghana's former president Jerry John Rawlings in a fire that gutted Rawlings' house.

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