Army intervenes to quell clashes in Ghana's parliament ahead of MPs' swearing-in

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Ghanaian soldiers intervened on Wednesday to quell clashes between opposing parties in parliament ahead of the body's swearing-in set for Thursday.

Chaotic scenes erupted after a ruling party deputy tried to seize the ballot box during a vote for parliamentary speaker. The ensuing clashes lasted several hours until the army stepped in, with national television broadcasting the drama live.

"There was total breakdown of law and order," said MP-elect Kwame Twumasi Ampofo of the opposition National Democratic Congress. "Looking at a member of parliament and a minister of state snatching ballot papers... was so shameful."

Parliament split down the middle

The new parliament will be virtually split down the middle between the two main parties, the presidential New Patriotic Party, and the main opposition National Democratic Congress, lead by John Mahama.

This parliamentary stalemate poses the risk of gridlock with key issues on the agenda including how to turn around an economy hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

President Nana Akufo-Addo, who narrowly won re-election in the 7 December vote, will also be sworn in on Thursday.

His New Patriotic Party lost 32 seats in the elections for the 275-member parliament.