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Emergency recall of parliament needless – Muntaka

The Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, has said he does not see the need for an emergency recall of parliament only for the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, since the house will officially resume sitting in three weeks’ time.

According to him, the recall will only cause the legislature to incur huge costs.

“I really don’t see what is urgent about a ratification of a continental free trade area. This was done just a few weeks back in Kigali and the hope was that they could have waited…. I know Ghana has so many other treaties that we have not even ratified…. We would have to incur the huge expenditure of recalling parliamentarians from their break to come and spend two days and go back when we could wait for three weeks’ time,” he said in an interview on Eyewitness News.

Members of Parliament were on Monday recalled from their recess by the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye for the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

The MPs are expected to sit on Thursday, April 26, and Friday, April 27, 2018, according to the memo.

The Director of Public Affairs at Parliament, Kate Addo, confirmed on Eyewitness News that the recall is “for the urgent consideration and ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.”

She also suggested that more agreements could be tabled for deliberation though she said the leadership of the House would be best placed to provide more info.

“That is the main agenda that we will be considering but there are other things. Usually, when the House sits, things come up,” Kate Addo said.

Meanwhile, there are suggestions that this recall may be linked to some issues around the controversial Ghana-US defence cooperation agreement.

Mustapha Hamid

In March, the government said it intended to trigger a recall of Parliament to ratify the 1998 and the 2015 defence cooperation agreements the country signed with the US under different National Democratic Congress (NDC) administrations.

The Information Minister, Dr. Mustapha Hamid, explained to Citi News that following the Supreme Court judgement that ordered the agreement to host the detainees from Guantanamo Bay on the behest of the US to Parliament for ratification, the government has said the 1998 and 2015 agreements are essentially unlawful.

“We intend to cure that defect by taking the 1998 and 2015 agreements to Parliament for Parliament to give us ratification so that we will continue to operate under these current arrangements that we have until we have completed the processes for triggering the 2018 arrangements,” he said.

He added that the ratification of these old deals is to ensure that there is a legal framework, guiding the collaboration of the US and Ghanaian armies, as it works to implement the controversial 2018 defence cooperation.

Minority could snub recall

In response to this, the MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said the possible recall of Parliament to ratify the 1998 and the 2015 defence cooperation agreements was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Speaking on Eyewitness News in March, Mr. Ablakwa said either the Government was confused or “only engaged in pedestrian propaganda to throw dust into the eyes of Ghanaians.”

He thus retorted that the minority “will not move an inch out of their constituencies and come engage in this futile exercise presented by a government engaged in pedestrian propaganda.”

By: Jonas Nyabor/citinewsroom.com/Ghana

MPs likely to be recalled to ratify 2015 Ghana-US military agreement

Members of Parliament are likely to be recalled to the House for an emergency meeting to reconsider and ratify a 2015 Ghana-US Military agreement signed by former Foreign Affairs Minister Hannah Tetteh.

Information Minister Mustapha Hamid said the government needs to give “proper legal authority” to the 2015 agreement which forms the foundation of a similar agreement signed with the US in 2018.

The 2018 agreement has been ratified by Parliament amidst drama and chaos with the Minority National Democratic Congress walking out of Parliament.

The Minority insists it will not have anything to do with an agreement that is likely to sell the sovereignty of the country.

But government spokespersons have said the 2018 agreement is not significantly different from the 2015 one signed by the NDC, except that the John Mahama led government failed to bring it to Parliament for ratification as required by law.

Mustapha Hamid told Joy FM’s Evans Mensah on Top Story, Monday, in order to avert a possible suit that may torpedo the current agreement with the US, the government had to send the 2015 agreement to Parliament for ratification.

In the absence of the ratification of the 2015 agreement, “somebody can go to the Supreme Court for a declaration that the agreement is null and void,” he said.

Mustapha Hamid

He explained that the “2015 agreement guides our military cooperation activities. All the things we are doing currently are guided by the 1998 and 2015 agreement. We need to give proper legal authority to what is before Parliament.”

Even though the House is on recess, the Information Minister said it will not be out of place to recall the MPs to Parliament to have them approve and ratify the 2015 agreement.

He said given that the 2015 agreement with the US was signed by the NDC government, it should not be a problem for the Minority MPs to approve and ratify same when they are recalled to Parliament.

Mustapha Hamid said “they know this was not a dangerous agreement; they know it was nothing dangerous to our security but in opposition politics, you ought to do things to score political points.”

“We cannot build Berlin walls around our country and be isolated,” he said, hoping, the Minority members will support and approve the 2015 agreement when they are recalled.

But if the comments by the Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak are anything to go by, the Minority will boycott the 2015 agreement, the same way they did to the 2018 agreement.

Mubarak told Evans Mensah they will not want to have anything to do with the two agreements.

He also dismissed claims that the Minority members who were in the majority at the committee level approved the agreement at the Committee level only to boycott it at the plenary.

Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul alleged there were 14 Minority MPs as against 10 Majority MPs on the day the agreement was approved by majority decision at the committee level.

He said the committee members had every opportunity to throw out the agreement with a vote if they were truly against the agreement.

He was however surprised that the same people walked out of Parliament when the same agreement they approved at the committee level was brought to the plenary.

But Muntaka Mubarak insists the chairman of the Defence Committee resisted all attempt for votes at the committee level.

He said tried as the Minority members did, the chair of the committee “refused to call for division” in order for the votes to be done.

 

Source: myjoyonline

Ghana-US agreement: Ahi accuses Civil society, clergy of double standards

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is accusing some civil society groups and the clergy of hypocrisy and double standards.

Individuals, including Ashesi Professor, Stephen Adei,  have not been left out of the gun scatter attack by the NDC.

The party is astounded by what it claims to be the deafening silence of those groups and individuals in the face of the controversial ratification of the Ghana-US Military agreement, when in fact those same people had criticized the previous government for similar agreements.

Speaking to Joy News, a former Works and Housing Minister Samson Ahi  said:

“During the era of president Mahama, all these groups were very vibrant on any issue. When the GITMO 2 matter came, the Secretary-General of Christian Council Dr Opuni said President Mahama should listen to the cry of Ghanaians and return the GITMO 2 to wherever they came from.”

According to him, the president of the Catholic Bishop Conference, Bishop Osei Bonsu in a response to Mahama’s comment that he accepted the GITMO 2 into Ghana on the basis of compassion said: “compassion without common sense is useless so the president should return them.

“Then the National Peace Council also issued a statement that they should be returned. IEA, CDD, IMANI Ghana, Pastor Mensa Otabil, Prof Martey, Prof Stephen Adei, all these important people in our country opposed that decision.”

He is surprised that these groups and individuals have been quiet in the face of the controversial Ghana-US defence agreement.

The agreement which will allow the US Military unfettered access to some agreed facilities in Ghana was ratified last Friday amidst drama and chaos in Parliament.

The Minority walked out of the House saying it will not have anything to do with an agreement that will compromise the sovereignty of the country.

Their walking out did not stop the Majority members of the House from ratifying the agreement.

Samson Ahi, who is angry with the government for ratifying the agreement, is even more disappointed with what he says is silence from civil society groups and some individuals.

“Now the NPP under the Nana Akufo-Addo’s presidency is seeking to mortgage our sovereignty to the US. That is why I want to know the position of the Christian Council in this matter. Are they for or against?” he asked.

 

Source: myjoyonline

Opuni, Agongo trial: NDC accused of trying to influence outcome by busing supporters

The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) is accusing executives of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) of trying to use its supporters to influence the outcome of a trial involving a former CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman, Seidu Agongo.

Scores of party faithful on Monday flocked to the Accra Courts complex to solidarise with Dr Opuni, who is facing trial for causing financial loss to the state.

According to Executive Secretary of the GACC, Beauty Emefa Narteh, the busing of hundreds of party supporters to the court premises is aimed at putting fear in the judges sitting on the case.

The Executive Secretary of the Coalition was speaking Monday evening on Adom FM’s Burning Issues programme hosted by Afia Pokua.

The GACC Executive Secretary said the busing of party supporters to court is a known tactic used to intimidate judges sitting on a case and condemned the action by the NDC.

The mainly youthful throng, who were seen singing and drumming told Joy News they were bused to the Courts complex by NDC executives.

Beauty Emefa Narteh told Afia Pokua that the judges should stand firm to apply the law without fear or favour, regardless of the support the accused people gets in court.

“The judges should be bold, courageous in determining the case to deter the political parties and their supporters from mounting such pressures on the judiciary” she admonished the judges.

Contributing to the discussions, Programme Officer at CDD-Ghana, Paul Mensah Abrampa said Ghana needs a solid judicial system to determine political cases despite the noise and pressures from party supporters and executives.

Abrampa Mensah however, noted that confidence in the Judiciary is eroding and called on the bench to expedite action on cases involving political heads.

Meanwhile, Stephen Opuni has been granted bail by the Accra High court hearing the 27 charges against him including causing financial loss to the state.

His self-recognisance bail is to the tune of 300,000 cedis, the judge ruled and directed that he deposits his passport with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters in Accra.

He is also to report himself to the CID any time he wishes to travel outside the country.

The Second accused, Seidu Agongo, was also granted self-recognisance bail to the tune of 300,000 cedis and is to follow the same directives given Dr Opuni.

 

Source: myjoyonline

Bussing youths to Opuni trial insulting – NYA

The bussing of youths including teens to support former COCOBOD CEO Dr Stephen Opuni who is standing trial has been condemned.

The National Youth Authority (NYA), a state institution charged with developing youth potential described the bussing as “belittling, abusive and disgusting”

“While youth play important roles in political activism, we must draw the line on what is acceptable, tolerable and downright reprehensible”, a statement signed by NYA CEO Emmanuel Asigri read.

Joy News captured scenes of youth singing and dancing on the first day of the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni who faces 27 criminal charges including causing financial loss to the state.

The youth maintained they were bussed to the Accra High Court by some NDC executives, a claim the National Organiser Kofi Adams has denied.

The NYA statement also refrained from mentioning NDC but was nonetheless critical of using “youthful potential as political pawns”.

It said at a time when the concern of 16.5 million Ghanaians under 35 years are discussing jobs, some have been used to further a partisan agenda in a case that is following due process.

 

PRESS RELEASE

NYA expresses disgust at bussing of youths to support Opuni trial

The National Youth Authority expresses deep disappointment over the bussing of youths including teens to the Accra High Court ostensibly to show support in the trial of the former COCOBOD CEO Dr. Stephen Opuni.

While youth play important roles in political activism, we must draw the line on what is acceptable, tolerable and downright reprehensible.

Using youthful potential as political pawns is belittling, abusive and disgusting.

Within youth circles, the great care and concern over the years have been about jobs and entrepreneurship.

It is about how to engage the youth to apply productive polish to potential.

Several engagements have been ongoing and some 3,000 youths with a basic understanding of digital media have been selected for a 12-week NYA training and an ECOBANK job.

And so it beats our imagination that while the NYA is selecting youths for jobs, some operatives are selecting them to jump and dance at a trial that is following due process.

We condemn it and urge development-based youth groups raise their voices at the exploitation of their demographic constituency by self-centred political actors.

This display of teens on TV for 10 cedis is an insult to each of the 16.5million Ghanaians who are under 35 years and constitute the focus of the NYA.

The NYA has not refrained from condemning acts of hooliganism carried out of youths in the country.

Wrong is wrong and until we begin the cherish right and remain united in pointing it out irrespective of our political persuasions, we risk sacrificing the interest of Ghana.

 

SIGNED

Chief Executive, National Youth Authority

Emmanuel Sin-nyet Asigri 

Ghana-US military deal: Hanna Tetteh may face Parliament – Muntaka hints

Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Hanna Tetteh, is likely to be hauled before Parliament to answer questions about allegations she signed a military cooperation agreement granting the United States military unrestricted access to Ghana’s military facilities in 2015.

The allegation against the Minister under the erstwhile John Mahama administration was made by the current Defense Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, on Wednesday.

At a press encounter yesterday, Mr Nitiwul produced two separate military agreements which, according to him, clearly show that the Jerry Rawlings and John Mahama administrations signed bilateral military agreements which he says laid the foundation for the new controversial agreement.

The Nana Akufo-Addo government has been fighting off criticisms since details of a military agreement with the United States of America was leaked.

Many believe the agreement favours the U.S. and may undermine Ghana’s sovereignty.

Under the agreement, the government will allow the US military unfettered access to some facilities close to the Kotoka International Airport.

The facilities will be a storehouse where military equipment will be stored for exclusive use by the US military.

There have been suggestions the new agreement will end up in the creation of a military base in Ghana, a suggestion government and its US counterparts have been quick to dismiss.

At the press conference, the Defence Minister said on assumption of office he was confronted with the two agreements “secretly” signed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the notification that a third agreement will come into force in 2018.

Invitation

Following the claims by the Defence Minister, Minority Chief whip and MP for Asewase, Muntaka Mubarak, has hinted that Ms Tetteh will be summoned to authentic the documents presented by the Defence Minister.

“Even if it was my government, it was NDC that was going to do this…I will oppose it because that will be selling our birth price to the U.S. Whoever signed that agreement must be brought in to answer,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minority Chief Whip has vowed to scuttle the military agreement between the government and its US counterpart.

Muntaka Mubarak has promised to rally Ghanaians to prevent the government from going ahead with the joint military deal.

 

Source: myjoyonline

Nana Addo justifies creation of new districts

President Nana Akufo-Addo has hit back at critics who say the creation of new districts and municipalities is unnecessary.

The President said the creation of new districts will bring development to the doorstep of many and deepen Ghana’s democratic processes.

The government has received some criticism over the creation of 38 new districts and municipalities across the country.

But speaking before some Chiefs from the Upper West Region at a meeting on Monday, President Akufo-Addo affirmed that decentralization was key to development.

“We want the decentralization exercise to succeed, to really bring the government closer to the doorstep of people and that is the way we will get better governance in our country. We believe in it strongly and that is the reason for the enhancement of the district assembly and districts across the country,” he said.

The 38 newly created districts officially commenced work last Thursday.

This was after the passing of a Legislative Instrument allowed for their creation as well as the carving out of some municipalities from other assemblies, and the elevation of some existing districts to municipality status.

This was followed by the Electoral Commission undertaking a field study into the viability of the creation of more Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies.

The field study was to consider the population dynamics in the respective regions, the geographical or physical features of the areas, their economic viability, as well as ethnic and community interests.

It also considered social infrastructure and the centrality and accessibility of the capital.

Critique of new districts

President of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, is one of the critiques of this attempt at decentralization,and has said the 38 newly created local assemblies were needless.

Mr. Cudjoe argued that some of the existing assemblies are already struggling and that government should have put measures in place to boost their capacities instead of bringing new ones on-board.

IMANI Africa President, Franklin Cudjoe.

“There’s basic geographic information that tells you that even if you want to do these type of division, at least look for some agglomeration of activity. You assume that you have to create it before the activities come, no. The districts are barely $1.5 billion worth averagely. You need to build the capability of the existing ones,” he noted

The list of new districts:

• Ahafo Ano South West District Assembly

• Ahafo Ano South East District Assembly

• Amansie South District Assembly

• Amansie West District Assembly

• Atwima Nwabiagya North District Assembly

• Adansi South District Assembly

• Akrofruom District Assembly

• Adansi North District Assembly

• Adansi Asokwa District Assembly

• Obuasi East District Assembly

• Afigya Kwabre South District Assembly

• Afigya Kwabre North District Assembly

• Pru West District Assembly)

• Pru East District Assembly)

• Berekum West District Assembly)

• Assin North District Assembly

• Gomoa Central District Assembly

• Gomoa East District Assembly

• Asene Manso District Assembly

• Okere District Assembly

• Atiwa West District Assembly

• Atiwa East District Assembly

• Fanteakwa South District Assembly

• Fanteakwa North District Assembly

• Nanton District Assembly

• Bunkpurugu District Assembly

• Yunyoo District Assembly)

• Bolga East District Assembly

• Garu District Assembly

• Tempane District Assembly

By: Sammi Wiafe & Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana

Cabinet approves agreement for U.S. to establish military base in Ghana

Joy News has intercepted an agreement approved by Cabinet granting unrestricted access to a host of Ghanaian facilities and wide-ranging tax exemptions to the United States Military.

The agreement will permit the U.S. Military to use Ghana as a base for staging and deploying forces.

Despite the unrestricted access and tax exemptions, Ghana has also agreed to bear the cost and take primary responsibility for securing the U.S. facilities in Ghana.

The documents show that negotiation with the U.S. has been ongoing at least for the past 8 months, however, Cabinet approved the deal on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

Dominic Nitiwul

– Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul

Unimpeded access

According to the agreement Ghana will provide unimpeded access to and use of agreed facilities and areas to the U.S. forces and Contractors.

It also allows U.S. forces and their Contractors to undertake construction activities on and make alterations and improvements to agreed facilities and areas.

The U.S. forces are also authorised to control entry to the facilities meant for the exclusive use of their forces.

Ghana has also agreed to “furnish without rental or similar costs to the united states all agreed facilities and areas including those jointly used by the United States Forces and Ghana.”

According to the agreement seen by Joy News, “United States Contractors shall not be liable to pay tax or similar charge assess within Ghana in connection with this agreement”.

Import and export

The U.S. Forces may also import into and export out of, and use in Ghana any personal property equipment supplies material technology, training or services in connection with the agreement.

But most importantly such importation, exportation and use shall be exempt from any inspection, license other restrictions customs duties taxes or any other charges assess within Ghana.

The agreement also states that “aircraft, vehicles and vessels operated by or at the time, exclusively for the United States Forces may enter exit and move freely within the territory and territorial waters of Ghana.”

Such aircraft, vehicles and vessels shall also not be subject to the payment of landing parking or port fees. Cabinet also agreed that no Ghanaian official shall board and inspect any of these U.S. aircraft, vehicles and vessels without the consent of the U.S. Forces.

Radio spectrum

The U.S. Forces can also use Ghana’s radio spectrum free of charge.

Ghana has also agreed to accept as valid without a driving test or fee driving licenses or permits issued by the appropriate U.S. authorities to military personnel as well as us civilians and contractors.

Joy News has also intercepted a memo written by Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, asking Parliament to ratify the deal.

In the memo, he explains that Ghana will benefit from the deal because it also involves  “the facilitation of training, including maintaining unit readiness, continued exercises and other military opportunities for the Ghana Armed Forces.”

Mr Nitiwul also argues that the deal will ensure that there is enhanced and fruitful security co-operation between Ghana and the USA.

Parliament is expected to weigh the options and make a decision on whether to approve or reject the deal when the proposal comes to the House.

The agreement has been scheduled to come to the legislators later this week.

‘Baloney’?

Rumours of a process to establish in a military base in Ghana started during the administration of John Agyekum Kufuor.

However, when former U.S. President John Bush visited Ghana in 2008 he dispelled the rumours.

It “simply not true,” the U.S President had said.

He said the United States has no plans to add new bases in Africa but may open an office somewhere on the continent as part of its plans for Africom, a new U.S. military command that will focus on Africa.

 

Source: myjoyonline

We’ll continue abandoned Mahama projects – Gov’t

Vice President, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, has announced plans by the government to continue all infrastructure projects started by the Mahama administration.

Dr. Bawumia says the move is one surest way of making Ghanaians benefit from such projects.

Speaking at the commissioning of the second phase of the security service housing scheme at the Eastern Naval Command in Tema, Dr. Bawumia said the government will also begin the completion of projects started under the Kufuor administration

“We have to make sure that this is the way governance continues. When one government starts a project, do not abandon it, try and complete it,” Bawumia said.

Many have expressed fears that the new government, having outlined its own development program for the country, will abandon infrastructural projects commenced by the John Mahama government.

The practice of abandoning started projects whenever a new government takes over office has been viewed as a major threat to the country’s development agenda.

President Akufo-Addo in a previous interaction with journalists also assured that “the infrastructural commitments that were in place when we came to office are going to continue, including of course the road network in the country and in Kumasi in particular.”

While interacting with journalists some 6 months after assuming office, he indicated that across the country, the number of projects and other resources that have been abandoned “because of change in government is alarming, that is why we established a national asset recovery unit that is going to find ways to leverage these assets”.


By: Sammi Wiafe/citifmonline.com/Ghana

Obiri Boahen faces NPP today over ‘leaked’ audio

Deputy General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Obiri Boahene, will later today, Wednesday, appear before the party’s Steering Committee to answer questions on some damaging allegations he made against his party in a leaked audio that has gone viral.

Nana Obiri Boahen, in the leaked phone conversation he had with an activist of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Kwaku Skirt, claimed that, the presidency gave the party an amount of 50 billon cedis for it’s annual delegates conference in Cape Coast in 2017, a claim the NPP has since denied.

Mr. Boahen also claimed that despite playing a key role in NPP’s victory in the last general elections, he had been ignored since the party came into power.

He had stated that the party had failed to provide him with an official car for his work, adding that “I don’t remember the last time I received a monthly salary from the party.”

“Till date, I don’t even have an office at the party’s headquarters. To be frank, I have been using my own private car, and the party has not given me any official car for my use as Deputy General Secretary. I buy my own fuel. And even on official trips abroad, I’ll be left to my fate. When I recently went to Germany, it was an NPP Member who bought a ticket for me. I went to Spain, Dortmund it was an individual that processed my trip. I do virtually everything, and I don’t remember the last time I received a monthly salary from the party,” he said in the leaked tape.

No contracts 

Obiri Boahen had also made other allegation against the party’s acting General Secretary, when he lamented that no Minister, DCE or even the acting General Secretary had offered him a government contract, suggesting that others who had not worked as hard as he did to ensure the party won the polls were benefiting greatly.

“No Minister, DCE, MCE has called for any contract. What is happening is grabbing” he claimed.

“John Boadu has never called me to say there is a contract at the headquarters so bring a paper and claim it. It has never happened so I am quiet and watching,” he said.

But these claims were dismissed by John Boadu who intimated hat he does not give contracts to party officials.

“Is that what is supposed to be done; that ministers will call party officials and dole out contracts to them, that as I sit at the headquarters, I should be able to call my colleagues that I have contracts and that they should come for them, is that how the country should be run, that party officials, because we are national officers of the party, we must be given vehicles just because we are in government?”John Boadu had stated.

Though Nana Obiri Boahen has since apologized for his comments, it is unclear what action will be taken against him.

By: Marian Ansah & Sammy Wiafe/citifmonline.com/Ghana

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