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Thousands of youth join Fix the Country demonstration in Tamale 

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Fix the country, Newscenta, Tamale Demo,

Thousands of youth, dressed in red apparel, have demonstrated for a new constitution and accountability from political leaders.

The protest was part of the Tamale phase of the Fix the Country nationwide demonstration.

The protesters held placards with diverse inscriptions to draw the attention of government and lawmakers to revise the country’s 1992 Constitution to better address social inequality and democratic accountability.

Some inscriptions on the placards read; “Arise Ghana Youth for a New Generation”, “Justice for Ahmed Suale”, “Repeal Article 71”, “We are Tired of Being Voting Machines,” among others.

The demonstration was organised by the Fix the Country conveners and affiliate youth groups, including Activista Ghana, Northern Regional Youth Network and Progressive Forces of Northern Ghana.

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It was led by Oliver Barker Vormawor, Convener of the Fix the Country Movement.

The demonstration also marked the climax of 10 weeks of on-ground mobilisation and civic education by the Fix the Country group in the Northern Region.

Mr Vormawor, addressing protesters   on Saturday, said the constitution, which favoured people in power and impoverished the poor, must be repealed to hold political leaders to account.

He called on the youth to rally behind the cause to fight for justice urging them to lead delegations to their respective party offices for leaders to issue statements demanding a new constitution.

He noted that the Fix the Country demonstration would be subsequently extended to Bolgatanga, Wa and other parts of the country.

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Mr Mohammed Abdul Sallam, Northern Regional Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, said members of the party deemed the call for constitutional review worthy, adding the party needed to associate openly to the call for social justice.

He said the protest would send a signal to government that citizens were suffering.

GNA/

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Soldier slaps policeman provoking violent clash in Accra Central

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Soldier slaps police, Newscenta, violent clash, bullion van, Accra Central.

A violent scuffle ensued between Police and Military personnel near the Accra Regional Police Command yesterday creating fear and panic among the public.

An eye witness told The Finder that the scuffle was provoked by members of a military patrol team escorting a bullion van who slapped a police personnel not in uniform for not giving them way.

The eye witness who spoke on condition of anonymity explained that upon  the bullion van reaching the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) area, the soldiers in the patrol vehicle screamed at a motor rider  to give them way.

The eye witness said the motor rider responded that he is a police officer and this response infuriated the military personnel.

The eye witness told this paper that one soldier alighted from their vehicle and slapped the policeman who was not in uniform.

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The police officer quickly raise alarm and his colleagues at the Accra Regional Command premises rushed to his rescue.

According to the eye witness, the police personnel then detained the military personnel who slapped the police man.

The soldiers escorting the convoy attempted to resist the arrest of their colleague resulting in violent scuffle.

As at the time of going to press, details were still emerging but The Finder could not get the names of the police personnel slapped and the military personnel involved in the assault.

The Police and Military could not be reached immediately for their response.

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The Finder learnt that the soldier was granted bail yesterday evening.

The conflict between the military and police is not uncommon in Ghana and in most cases, it the soldiers who attack the police.

In 2010 for instance, tensions flared between soldiers and police officers in Kumasi, when separate assaults carried out by soldiers within two days left 12 police personnel injured and police property destroyed.

The attacks began after a police officer attempted to arrest a soldier riding an unlicensed motorcycle.

In 2019, police personnel and some soldiers clashed at the Suame Roundabout in Kumasi.

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This was after some police officers allegedly manhandled a plain-clothed military officer and handcuffed him.

The plain-clothed military officer was using an unregistered motorbike.

The military officer also called his other colleagues, who then attacked the police officers.

The soldier threatened to return with reinforcements and attack the police officer and made good on the threat later that day.

Over the next two days, more than a dozen police officers across the city were assaulted by soldiers.

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In 2018, some soldiers and police officers in the Upper East region flexed muscles Sunday in a row over a military uniform.

In the same year, a group of soldiers angry over the arrest of their colleague stormed Tamale in the Northern Region and viciously pummeled police officers on duty at various points and banks.

Personnel of the Counter Terrorism Unit of the Ghana Police Service and personnel of the Military on the Operation Motherland at Juapong and on the Adomi bridge also clashed in 2021.

There has been a long-standing split tension between police and soldiers which some security experts partly blames on the outdated nature of the security legislation governing their operations.

Due to some of these disagreements between police and military personnel in the past, there have been calls for reform to establish clear oversight mechanisms and delineate security roles for the police and armed forces in Ghana.

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Among the resolutions arrived at were the setting up of Police and Military memberships in all regions that host military bases, ‘for the purposes of overseeing the peaceful co-existence of both services,

The personnel are the custodians of arms meant to protect and defend ordinary people   and not to attack each other.

It appears there is a deep seated animosity between personnel of the two institutions.

It is untenable for them to turn the area into a battleground to settle personal scores.

 

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Finance

Kamala Harris: US to engage Ghana’s creditors for debt reduction  

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Kamala Harris, Newscenta, creditors, counter terrorism, investment,

Vice-President of the United States of America Kamala Harris pledged the commitment of her country to engage the Paris Club of behalf of Ghana which is seeking debt forgiveness as part of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) balance of payment support.

According to her, the US will help Ghana with all the support it needs to ensure that it scales through its current economic crisis.

US fully support Ghana’s engagement with IMF

She indicated that the US is fully in support of Ghana’s engagement with the IMF and will push for debt reduction by the country’s bilateral creditors.

Biden administration to push for meaningful debt reduction

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She insisted that the Biden administration “will continue to push for all bilateral creditors to provide meaningful debt reduction for countries that needed including Ghana.”

“We must work together as an international community to ease the debt burden that is facing far too many countries,” she added.

Kamala Harris, Newscenta, creditors, counter terrorism, investment,

Joint Press Conference

The US Vice-President announced this at a joint Press Conference with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at Jubilee House, Accra, after closed door discussions.

3-day state visit

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Harris, who arrived in Ghana on Sunday for a three-day state visit, is on a week-long trip on the African continent that would take her to Tanzania and Zambia.

US pledges support for economic recovery

She expressed the commitment of US to supporting Ghana to revamp its post-COVID-19 and Russia-Ukraine conflict impacted economy.

“We welcome Ghana’s commitment to reform its economy for sustainable and inclusive growth. “We support Ghana’s engagement with the IMF, and we will continue to push all bilateral creditors to provide meaningful debt reduction for countries that need it.

“It is critical to do so to build long-term economic growth and prosperity and to increase US investments. Our partnership is already strong, and I believe that today we have strengthened it,” she stated.Harris believes this will enable Ghana successfully negotiate the bailout it is seeking from the IMF.

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Kamala Harris, Newscenta, creditors, counter terrorism, investment,

Factors that adversely affected Ghana’s macroeconomy

The COVID-19 pandemic, rising global food prices, rising crude oil and energy prices; and the Russia-Ukraine war adversely affected Ghana’s macroeconomy, with spillovers to the financial sector.

Combination of adverse external shocks

The combination of adverse external shocks had exposed Ghana to a surge in inflation, a large exchange rate depreciation and stress on the financing of the budget, which taken together have put public debt on an unsustainable path.

$54bn total public debt stock

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Ghana’s total public debt stock stands at $54 billion, out of which $28 billion is owed to foreign creditors.

Ghana owes China $1.9bn

Out of Ghana’s $8.5 billion bilateral loans, about $1.9 billion is owed to China.

$3bn staff-level agreement reached in December 2022

In December 2022, the government reached a staff-level agreement with the fund and is now left with board-level approval before it can access the $3 billion support.

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America’s investment in wellbeing and prosperity of people

Harris assured that the US stands by its commitment to building on existing relations with Ghana, and working together to advance America’s investment in the wellbeing, health and prosperity of the people,” she stated.

Kamala Harris, Newscenta, creditors, counter terrorism, investment,

US resident advisor to assist Finance Ministry 

According to her, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) will deploy a full-time resident advisor to assist the Ministry of Finance to develop and execute medium-to-long-term reforms needed to improve debt sustainability and support a competitive, dynamic government debt market.

Building on debt restructuring efforts

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The project, according to the USA will complement and build on Ghana’s debt restructuring efforts.

To further support Ghana’s debt management, USAID is funding fellowships for a team of ten specialists to work within the Ministry of Finance, providing surge support for a two-year period.

The Fellows are all young, qualified Ghanaians and recent university graduates.

Strengthening public financial management

This project is part of OTA’s ongoing engagement to strengthen public financial management and financial sector oversight across sub-Saharan Africa.

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For 2023, OTA will execute 25 projects in 15 African countries.

This includes eight new projects in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Zambia in revenue policy and administration; budget and financial accountability; government debt issuance and infrastructure financing; banking and financial services; and economic crimes.

$100m to fight violent extremism and instability

The US Vice-President also announced the US government plans to commit $100 million support package for Ghana, Benin, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo, as part of efforts to promote stability in the sub-Region.

At least $86 million in funding over three years will specifically be dedicated to the implementation of the new 10-year plan.

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The package forms part of President Joe Biden’s strategy to cushion the beneficiary countries financially to address violent extremism and instability.

The package, the U.S., Vice President explained, complemented an earlier strategic plan announced by President Joe Biden, for coastal West Africa, to prevent conflict and promote stability.

Kamala Harris, Newscenta, creditors, counter terrorism, investment,

Harris praises President Nana Akufo-Addo

Harris praised President Nana Akufo-Addo for his leadership in response to recent democratic backsliding in West Africa and standing up for democratic principles around the world.

“Under your leadership, Ghana has been a beacon of democracy and a contributor to global peace and security,”

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“Your leadership in particular and personal engagement have strengthened the ties between the diaspora and the continent. President Joe Biden and I are grateful to have you as a partner,” she said.

Strengthening partnerships across the African continent

The US Vie-President said the United States was strengthening partnerships across the African continent and “we are guided not by what we can do for Africa, but by what we can do with Africa and African partners on this continent.”

African voices critical to global peace and security

With African nations playing significant roles in global issues such as food security, climate crisis and resilient supply chains, she stressed that African voices, including that of Ghana, “are critical to global peace and security, including the defence of the United Nations charter.”

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President Akufo-Addo says meeting was successful

President Akufo-Addo described his meeting with the US Vice-President as “successful,” as both sides reaffirmed the commitment to collaborate further and provide mutual support at both bilateral and multilateral levels.

He said Harris pledged America’s support for Ghana’s transformative agenda, adding, “it is this transformation that would give us the best opportunity to derive maximum benefit from our abundant natural resources and enable us to create a firmer foundation for a meaningful long-term economic and commercial relations with the United States of America.”

The President said Ghana will continue to collaborate with the US at all levels towards the peaceful resolution of conflicts and in the search for global peace and security to promote sustainable development and growth

“My meeting with the US Vice-President this afternoon has further boosted the steadfast cooperation between the two countries,” he affirmed.

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He pointed out that although he was concerned about terror groups, he had no formal confirmation that al-Qaida was present in Ghana.

On a question on the operations of the Russian mercenary force, Wagner, in the region, President Akufo-Addo said he worried that the group could expand its footprint in West Africa.

“It raises the very real possibility that once again our continent is going to become the playground for a great power conflict,” Akufo-Addo said.

The President also rejected concerns about China’s influence in the region, insisting that Ghana’s relations with were separate from one another, and said the ties with America “is a relationship that has been close over several decades.”

Ghana determined to add value to its abundant natural resources

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President Akufo-Addo said the country was determined to add value to its abundant natural resources in order to lift the economy from dependence on foreign aid to a self-reliant one.

Harris inspects a guard of honour

On her arrival at the Jubilee House, Harris inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Ghana Airforce, and took the national salute, whilst a 21-gun salute boomed in the background.

President Akufo-Addo met her at the foyer of the Presidency, where the two exchanged pleasantries and retired to the ceremonial room for a tete-a-tete.

Both parties reaffirmed the strengthening of the relations and long-standing ties between the peoples of Ghana and the United States and affirmed their resolves to bolster those bonds of friendship and cooperation.

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The two leaders, with their delegations, held bilateral talks, where discussions centred on a range of global and regional issues, including democracy, good governance, and human rights; regional security; long-term economic growth and macroeconomic stability.

Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, were hosted at a State Banquet at the Jubilee House by President Akufo-Addo in the evening.

 

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Finance

 Ofori-Atta says creditors agree to form Committee on Ghana

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Creditor Committee, Newscenta, Bilateral, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India,

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, has disclosed that Ghana has made significant progress in its discussions for debt treatment with the Paris Club and other bilateral creditors.
Official Creditor Committee
According to him, the Paris Club, together with other creditors including China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have agreed to form an Official Creditor Committee (OCC) on Ghana.
 IMF Executive Board approval possible in May 
He revealed that the Committee plans to deliver financing assurances to the International monetary Fund (IMF) as soon as possible to clear the path for an IMF Executive Board approval of Ghana’s programme by early May.
Positive engagements with China and Paris Club
Disclosing the outcome of engagements with China and Paris Club last week, Mr Ofori-Atta   said discussions with the Chinese government on the country’s debt restructuring programme have been positive.
China to Co-chair the Official Creditor Committee
Mr Ofori-Atta, who led a high level government delegation made up of technical officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bank of Ghana. to China last week, also requested for China to Co-chair the Official Creditor Committee.
$54bn total public debt stock
Ghana’s total public debt stock stands at $54 billion, out of which $28 billion is owed to foreign creditors.
Ghana owes China $1.9bn
Out of Ghana’s $8.5 billion bilateral loans, about $1.9 billion is owed to China.
$3bn staff-level agreement reached in December 2022
In December 2022, the government reached a staff-level agreement with the fund and is now left with board-level approval before it can access the $3 billion support.
Ghana seeking extension of maturities, debt servicing, lower interest rates
Information indicates that Ghana is seeking among other reliefs, an extension of the moratorium on debt servicing; an extension of maturities; and lower interest rates.
China expresses confidence in management of Ghana’s economy
The Finance Minister of China, Mr. Liu Kun, on his part said that his country has confidence in the management of the Ghanaian economy, and that his country felt a responsibility to be of help as Ghana seeks debt servicing relief.
At a meeting in Beijing, Mr. Kun said the Chinese authorities “have confidence in Ghana’s economic management and its long term economic viability.”
Expeditious treatment of Ghana’s request
Mr. Kun said he wanted to ensure that Ghana’s external debt treatment request was considered expeditiously and was thus accompanied to the meeting with Mr. Ofori-Atta by a high level delegation including Mr. Wu Fuli, Chairman of China Exim-Bank.
Committed to resolving challenges
Minister Kun said: “We know that these are short-term challenges which we, as responsible creditors, remain committed to resolving.”
Long standing and prosperous relationship
“The long standing and prosperous relationship between Ghana and China imposes on us a responsibility to help,” the Chinese Finance minister added.
Exogenous forces impacting Ghana’s economy 
He said that just like other African countries, Ghana was facing economic difficulties from a once in a lifetime pandemic, geopolitical tensions and interest rates hikes in advanced countries with a contagion effect on developing countries.
The Chinese officials committed to help Ghana resolve the current short-term liquidity challenges and continue to support Ghana’s medium and long-term development aspirations.
China to push for more concessional and grant funding for Ghana
They said China believed in promoting debt sustainability and sustainable development, and would advocate for more concessional and grant funding for Ghana, especially at this time.
Multilateral Banks should do more for Ghana
“Ghana needs more concessional and grant fund from creditors,” said Mr. Zhang Wencai, Vice-President of China Exim bank, adding that “the Multilateral Banks should therefore do more for Ghana.”
Revenue bills in parliament 
This week, all eyes are on Ghana’s parliament which will consider three key revenue measures whose approval is expected to rake in GH₵4.4 billion in domestic revenues.
It is one of the major actions on the part of Ghana, critical to trigger IMF Executive Board approval of a $3 billion facility for the country to ease its current economic difficulties.

 

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