Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo found himself under immense pressure during a tense three-day march towards the Presidency. Initially, the march began in turmoil, marked by the relentless police crackdown that led to the arrest of fifty protesters. However, it took a determined turn towards the end, with prominent figures openly calling for the president’s departure.
On Thursday, September 21, the police apprehended fifty individuals involved in unauthorized protests. The movement known as the “Democracy Hub” had planned these marches towards the president’s residence in Accra, raising concerns about public order, according to law enforcement.
Thursday afternoon saw the BBC reporting the arrest of some of its journalists while covering these protests. The police quickly denied these allegations, stating that they had not arrested journalists but had “picked up” a group of illegal demonstrators, among whom two journalists had identified themselves and were released.
“In dispersing the illegal demonstrators, a group of them was picked up and sent to the police station. During their screening process, two persons identified themselves as journalists and were immediately allowed to go,” stated a police press release.
Despite these arrests, the protesters returned in force on Friday. Hundreds of people, gathered at the 37 Hospital bus terminal, were determined to reach the Jubilee House but were blocked by a police barricade armed with SWAT gear and armored vehicles. The protesters responded by sitting in the middle of the road, taking control of the area while awaiting a resolution. In the meantime, the police engaged in discussions with the protest organizers.
On Saturday, the last day of the march, saw increased participation from young people, supported by renowned public figures, including musical artists Stonebwoy, Pape Kojo, Kwaw Kese, actor John Dumelo, and many other activists and influencers. Faced with the police obstacle and even in the rain, the protesters refused to yield, choosing to forge their own path. Night fell, but their determination remained unwavering, illuminated by the flickering glow of candles. In this nocturnal environment, their voices echoed, singing the national anthem, and their frustration was palpable in the darkness.
Last night, the police announced a meeting with the protest organizers for a “debriefing” aimed at “fostering more fruitful engagement in the future.” They also offered apologies “to public members who were inconvenienced in one way or the other, especially those who were caught up in the vehicular holdups during the demonstration”
Among the protesters’ demands are calls for the resignation of Nana Akufo-Addo’s government or a radical policy change. The youth believe that difficulties have worsened since the 79-year-old assumed office in January 2017. Indeed, Ghana’s debt has significantly increased under his leadership, contrasting with his criticism of his predecessor for excessive debt. The exchange rate has also seen significant fluctuations, going from 4 Ghanaian Cedis to 1 US Dollar to 11 Cedis, leading to an increased cost of living, despite the president’s promise of a 1-to-1 exchange rate.