Ghana’s opposition led a second day of protests Wednesday over the high cost of living and record inflation. Police fired tear gas at protesters Tuesday and made several arrests.
Clad in red and black, the hundreds of protesters chanted war songs while wielding signs and placards with inscriptions like, “Mr. President, where is our money?” and “the high cost of living will kill us.”
Police fired tear gas and used water cannon to disperse the crowd following a standoff over the proper marching route. The protesters threw stones and other objects at the police while burning car tires.
In a text to VOA, police spokesperson Grace Ansah-Akrofi said 12 personnel were injured in the melee, adding that 29 of the rioters have been arrested. Her text said police have reviewed video footage of the event and that all other persons who took part in the attacks and incited the violence “will be arrested and brought to face justice.”
The protests entered a second day on Wednesday. Yaw Barimah, a taxi driver and member of Arise Ghana, the group organizing the protest, spoke to VOA in Accra. Barimah says, “I campaigned for President Akufo-Addo to come to power. But today we’re suffering. What is our crime? We can’t afford rent and we’re sleeping outside. The youths are jobless. President Akufo-Addo has turned deaf ears to our plight. Ghanaians, let’s vote him out. We won’t stop demonstrating until things get better in Ghana.”
International relations and security expert Adam Bonaa condemned the chaotic nature of the protest, saying it overshadowed the objective of the exercise, which is to rejuvenate Ghana’s economy.
“But unfortunately, we’re discussing the demonstrators and the police. Meanwhile, these two groups have nothing to do with how this country is run. I would advise the leaders of the demonstrators to stick to the original plan of highlighting the challenges we’re all faced with. Whether you belong to A or B we’re all in this together.”
A government spokesperson, Palgrave Boakye-Danquah, said officials acknowledge the economic woes, but that global events are chiefly to blame.
Boakye-Danquah said the government will continue to have an open-door policy to address the concerns of citizens.
“Government is there to meet all the needs of the Ghanaian people. And I do not think our government is oblivious to all the challenges that are bewildering this world, which is why we have made pragmatic steps to address these issues.”
To reduce expenditures, the government recently banned foreign travel for officials except in critical situations, and members of the executive arm reduced their wages by 30 percent.
The government also scrapped some taxes on fuel.