The high cost of living in Ghana has sparked street protests in the capital city of Accra, as citizens voice their frustrations over the lingering economic crisis.
On Thursday, at least 49 individuals were arrested by the police as they attempted to storm the seat of government, Jubilee House. Eyewitnesses reported that the protesters, clad in red and black attire, were physically assaulted by the police. Journalists present at the scene were also detained before being released.
Richard Allotey, a 32-year-old unemployed graduate who participated in the protest, described the police’s actions as unjust. He recounted being forcibly placed on a waiting bus and physically assaulted at the police station. Allotey explained that the purpose of the demonstration was to register grievances concerning the mismanagement of the economy. “We were not armed. We only went to register our grievances over how the economy is being mismanaged and the police beat us,” he said.
The protest was organised by Democracy Hub, a governance advocacy group that strongly condemned the use of force by the police to suppress a peaceful protest. In a statement issued on Thursday, the group declared, “We have proven that we are indeed not timid people.” Democracy Hub expressed their disappointment over the police’s heavy-handed approach to handling the protest and called for accountability.
Police spokesperson Juliana Obeng did not comment on the alleged abuse but stated that the arrests were made “in connection with an unlawful assembly”. She referred to a last-minute court process initiated by the police to halt the planned demonstration.
The high cost of living in Ghana has placed a significant burden on its citizens, leading to widespread discontent and frustration. The cost of basic necessities, such as food, housing, and healthcare, has escalated, making it increasingly difficult for individuals and families to make ends meet. The economic crisis has been exacerbated by factors such as inflation, unemployment, and rising energy costs.
In recent years, Ghana has experienced rapid economic growth. However, this growth has not translated into improved living standards for all citizens. Many Ghanaians continue to face significant financial challenges, with their income unable to keep pace with the rising cost of goods and services. As a result, a growing number of people are finding it difficult to afford even the most basic necessities of life.
The protests in Accra serve as a stark reminder of the growing discontent among Ghanaians. The demonstrators are demanding that the government take immediate action to address the economic crisis and provide relief to its citizens. They argue that the government’s mismanagement of the economy has resulted in unnecessary hardship for the people and that urgent measures are needed to alleviate their suffering.
The response from the government has been mixed. While some officials acknowledge the challenges faced by the population, others downplay the severity of the situation. Efforts to address the high cost of living have been met with scepticism, with many questioning the government’s commitment to implementing effective solutions.
In order to effectively address the economic crisis, it is crucial that the government takes proactive steps to alleviate the burden on its citizens. This includes implementing policies that promote job creation, controlling inflation, and providing social safety nets for the most vulnerable sectors of society. Additionally, transparency and accountability are essential for rebuilding public trust and confidence in the government’s ability to steer the country towards economic stability.
“We want to clarify that the police do not take pleasure in preventing any group from demonstrating. However, in this particular case, there was a disagreement between the police and the organisers regarding the chosen venue being a security risk,” stated Obeng.
The National Democratic Congress, Ghana’s largest opposition party, expressed their dissatisfaction with the clash between the police and civilians on Thursday, calling it a “shame.”
“We strongly condemn the actions of the police as there was no justification for using force against peaceful protesters who had legitimate concerns about governance and corruption in our country,” Fiifi Kwetey, general secretary of NDC, said.
On X (formerly known as Twitter), many Ghanaians criticised the government for resorting to force to suppress civilian protests.
“These politicians are borrowing money on behalf of all Ghanaians,” popular singer Black Sherif posted in Pidgin English referring to the increasing debt. “And when those people whose struggles you claim to represent demand accountability, you send out law enforcement officers to beat them? We believe this is a battle that belongs to us.”