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General News Thu, 17 Mar 2005

"Wahala" demonstrators hit Accra streets for the second time

Accra, March 17, GNA - Hundreds of demonstrators on Thursday hit the streets of Accra to participate in the second "Wahala" demonstration organised by the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) against the recent 50 per cent hike in fuel prices.

The CJA said the demonstration was also to protest "the unbearable cost of living experience by most Ghanaians".

The demonstration started at 1000 hours with addresses from some of the leaders of the CJA and opposition political parties at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.

Notable among the placard bearing demonstrators, clad in red, were former President Jerry John Rawlings, the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Election 2004, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Ms Emelia Arthur of the National Reform Party, Mr Kwesi Pratt (JNR), a journalist and member of the Convention People's Party, Madam Ama Benyiwa Doe of the NDC and Mr Kofi Totobi Quakyi, a former Minister of State under the NDC.

The demonstrators, who chanted anti-government slogans amidst singing and dancing, were cheered on by a curious and enthusiastic crowd that had gathered along the Circle-Accra road, Adabraka through Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, TUC Headquarters, National Theatre to the Hearts Park, near the Arts Centre, where they converged for a mini rally.

Some of the placards read: "Mr President listen to the voice of the suffering Ghanaian", "NPP the suffering is too much", "Where are the human rights activists", "Petrol hikes suffocating us", "Say no to fuel tsunami", "New oil prices will kill farmers", "Fuel prices are murderous", "Medical bill wahala" and "NPP stop the Kwaku Ananse". There was massive police presence on horses, anti-riot vans and on foot patrols throughout the over three and half-hour demonstration. The first Wahala demonstration was held in Accra on March 1. Wahala is a Hausa word meaning "hardship".

A statement issued earlier by the CJA and signed by nine members said the demonstration was to protest the government's policy of "over taxing petroleum products leading to crippling fuel prices".

"The Wahala campaign embarked upon by the CJA had exposed as a lie, the government's assertion that until February 18, 2005 it had been subsidising fuel prices and that the huge increases were necessary to correct an unsustainable drain on public resources," the statement said. Those who signed the statement were Madam Araba Bentsi- Enchill, Madam Emelia Arthur, Madam Ama Beniwa Doe, Mr Danny Ofori-Atta and Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan.

The rest were Mr. Edward Koki Omane Boamah, Mr Kyeretwie Opoku, Mr Bede Ziedeng and Mr Pratt.

The statement said the "Wahala" campaign was a peaceful, lawful, non-partisan public interest campaign open to all Ghanaians who were interested in socio-economic justice, accountable government and sustainable national development.

Membership, it said, included trade unionists, student leaders, gender activists, traders, employers, industrialists, Ghanaians of all faiths and beliefs and the political parties.

Source: GNA