THERE WAS pandemonium at the Miklin Hotel, Kumasi, yesterday as Members of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) openly traded punches following a misunderstanding over the election of a Presiding Member (PM).
The House, which had been sharply divided on New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) lines, seemed not to agree on anything regarding the election which was marred by frequent open confrontations.
The two contestants for the position of PM—Nana Kofi Senya, believed to be an NPP loyalist, and Baffuor Agyei Kesse Adumhene, the NDC candidate—failed to secure the two-thirds majority votes required to win.
After five rounds of voting, the election ended in a deadlock, with the assembly members fighting among themselves.
Even the mere moving of motion by Nana Kwame Akatii, Krofrom West Assemblyman, for the adjournment of sitting nearly triggered another brawl among members of the House, who reportedly seemed ready to spill blood.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, John Alexander Ackon and Kojo Bonsu, Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive, who were present, looked stunned about how the process was interrupted for more than five times because of open exchanges of blows.
Allegations of bribery were being bandied about, with assembly members alleged to have been bribed with cash and projects.
The meeting was going on peacefully until Abraham Boadi aka Opooman, the assemblyman for Ridge/Nhyiaeso Electoral Area, who is on the NPP side, approached the Electoral Commission (EC) staff on the dais with a protest.
Mr Boadi demanded that there should be agents for two competing men for the PM poll, including Nana Kofi Senya, the New Suame assemblyman and Baffuor Agyei Kesse, the Adumhene, who is a government appointee.
Francis Dodovi, on the NDC side and government appointee, also rushed to the dais, amid complaints that Opooman had breached the standing orders of the House by moving straight to the EC officials to complain without seeking approval from the chairman of the event.
There were shouts from the NPP side that Dodovi should sit down; and this seemed to have infuriated Nurudeen Abass, another NDC member and a government appointee, as he rushed in a violent fashion to the NPP corner.
Nurudeen allegedly threw the first punch at Emmanuel Okyere, the Old Suame assemblyman.
Within minutes, the spacious conference hall of the hotel was temporarily turned into a boxing arena as members from the NDC and the NPP sides freely traded punches, amid shouts and threats, bringing the meeting to an abrupt end.
It took the intervention of the large number of policemen that were brought to the place to ensure law and order, before sanity could prevail at the place for the important election process to move on.
In the end, the PM election, which was the fourth in the series, ended in a stalemate as none of the competing candidates could garner two-thirds of the votes.
Nana Kofi Senya, who is seeking re-election as the PM, topped the last election, finishing with 68 votes, followed by Baffuor Agyei Kesse with 66 votes.
Baffuor Agyei Kesse, in his succinct address to the House, said he was willing to step aside provided Kofi Senya would also do same, arguing that he and Nana Kofi Senya seemed not to have what it took to win the poll.
He argued that the continuous inability of the House to elect a PM to preside over its affairs was retarding the progress of Kumasi, hence the need for the two men to step aside for new men to contest for the hot seat.
The absence of the PM is giving Kojo Bonsu a free ride, including questionable deals.
Nana Kofi Senya, in his response, stated categorically that he would only step aside after members of the House voted against him, saying that he once stepped down for Baffuor Agyei Kesse during a similar KMA PM poll and so the chief should also reciprocate his kind gesture this time around.
Kojo Bonsu also added his voice to Baffuor Kesse’s call for the two contestants to step aside for new people to contest for the seat, saying that the continual stalemate was retarding the growth of the city.
John Alexander Ackon appealed to members of the House to soften their rigid stance a bit so that a new PM could be elected to help expedite the development agenda of the city.
Nana Kwame Akatii moved a motion for the meeting to be adjourned to one week, and appealed to the Ashanti Regional Minister to intervene so that the KMA could get a new PM at the next sitting.
FROM I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi