* Fewer than expected protester turnout
* Commercial activities unaffected
* Protesters blame govt for high inflation, weak currency
By Kwasi Kpodo
ACCRA, July 24 Trade union leaders in Ghana
failed on Thursday to mobilise significant support for a planned
nationwide protest against what they say is the government's
mishandling of the economy.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC), the West African nation's
largest coalition of workers' syndicates, had called upon its
roughly 500,000 members to hold protest marches and observe a
one-day general strike.
Some 2,000 workers marched through the streets of the
capital Accra while a just few hundred joined similar protests
in other cities including Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale.
The demonstrations, which were meant to be the first
nationwide protest since President John Dramani Mahama took
office in January last year, had little impact on commercial
"Times are very hard for the majority of citizens and we are
calling for immediate action to halt the depreciation of the
cedi and rising cost of living," Kofi Asamoah, the TUC's
secretary-general, told demonstrators in Accra.
Once regarded as one of Africa's most promising frontier
markets, Ghana is struggling with stubborn budget deficits,
rising public debt and a currency, the cedi, that has shed
around 45 percent of its value against the dollar this year.
Consumer price inflation in Ghana - which produces cocoa,
gold and oil - hit a fresh four-year high of 15 percent in June,
mainly driven by the cedi's slide.
Kudjoe Kyei, a 39-year old company driver said he joined the
protest in Accra because the economic hardships had become
"Prices of goods are going up every day and we can't
continue pretending," he told Reuters, adding that one of his
two daughters had dropped out of school because he no longer had
money to pay for her tuition.
The demonstrators, many wearing red shirts, arm bands and
headbands, red being the TUC's colour, chanted anti-government
slogans and blew on Vuvuzela horns as they marched peacefully
through the streets of Accra, escorted by dozens of police.
"Fatal error, Mahama's government must reboot now", read one
placard held up by a demonstrator. "Fix the cedi now" and "Eh?
Somalia's shilling is doing better than Ghana's cedi?" were
(Editing by Joe Bavier and Susan Fenton)