Ghanaians return to the streets to protest economic woes

(Recasts and updates throughout with quotes and colour)

By Christian Akorlie

ACCRA, June 29 (Reuters) - Hundreds marched in Ghana's capital Accra on Wednesday in a second day of protests over spiralling inflation and other economic woes after a first day ended in clashes with police.

Large crowds have taken to the streets to denounce price hikes, a tax on electronic payments and other levies amid a downturn exacerbated by the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine and the coronavirus crisis.

Under the watch of hundreds of police, demonstrators clad in black and red marched towards government buildings on Wednesday, Bob Marley's "Get Up Stand Up" blasting from speakers, a Reuters reporter said.

"Things are difficult and I can't pay my rent," said Patience Hehemeku, 43, who lost her job at a pharmacy during the pandemic. "You can see me dress well but I don't have my own place to sleep."

Frustration has grown in recent months as Ghanaians bear the brunt of rampant inflation amid government efforts to redress the economy, re-appreciate the local currency and avoid a debt crisis.

Police in riot gear lined the streets leading to the finance ministry, where the authorised protest was headed.

There was no immediate sign of any clashes - unlike on Tuesday, when police dispersed protesters with tear gas and water cannons after the march turned violent, leading to at least 29 arrests.

A tax on electronic payments approved in April and presented as a solution to Ghana's financial woes has been particularly ill-received, with critics saying it unfairly affects low-income people and small business owners.

Meanwhile inflation hit a new record of 27.6% in May.

"Every day is a struggle to provide for my three kids," said protestor Daniel Agbemavor, 51, who also lost his job at a restaurant during the pandemic.

"There is no money... and the price of goods keeps going up. We masses are suffering," he told Reuters.

Economic growth in one of West Africa's largest economies and the continent's second biggest gold producer slowed to 3.3% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022.
Reporting by Christian Akorlie and Copper Inveen; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson

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