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Weekly Round-Up: Bagbin and Presidency Face Off on Anti-Gay Bill, Bawumia and Mahama Make Fresh Promises as Internet Situation Improves

This is a weekly round-up of all the stories that made the headlines here at The Accra Times. We break the complex politics down and give you insights into what issues are likely to come up in the next week.

From the Presidency’s letter asking parliament to hold off sending the anti-gay bill to his office, and the speaker’s reaction, it has been a very interesting news week. If you haven’t had time to follow all the updates, let us paint a picture of what happened for you. We got you.

House of Cards: Presidency, Bagbin and Parliament Face Off on Anti-LGBTQ Bill

On Tuesday, March 19, the Jubilee House through a letter advised parliament to halt any attempts at submitting the anti-LGBTQ bill that was passed in February to the President for signing until pending legal challenges are resolved.

The Presidency said they were drawing on the advice of the Attorney General who had written to President Akufo-Addo asking him “not to take any steps in relation to the bill until the matters raised by the suits are determined by the Supreme Court.”

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Two individuals, gender activist Dr. Amanda Odoi and Richard Sky, a journalist Citi FM have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality and implications of the bill for the country.

Reacting to the Presidency’s directive, the immediate past Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said the letter from the Presidency poses a threat to Ghana’s democratic principles and reflected President Akufo-Addo’s desire to exert control over other branches of government.

In response to the actions of the Presidency, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, said Parliament will not consider President Akufo-Addo’s ministerial nominees who are seeking Parliament’s approval “in the spirit of upholding the rule of law” until after a determination of a suit by the Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Etse K. Dafeamekpor, challenging the appointment of the ministers.

Commenting on the issue, the Attorney General, Godfred Dame, has said that the discussions and proceedings surrounding the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill have been tainted with political motives.

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Our Take

It is not yet clear whether President Akufo-Addo will give in to the demands of parliament and receive the bill. However, he risks the approval of his ministers who are waiting to start work to help the government deal with the country’s ailing economy.

Internet Situation Improves as Government Prepares to License Elon Musk’s StarLink

Following the major internet disruption that hit West and Central Africa on March 14, the National Communications Authority (NCA) engaged stakeholders throughout the week to determine the next cause of action.

Already the Authority has stated that it will take a minimum of five weeks for full connectivity to be restored.

The Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful also told Parliament on Monday, March 18, that processes have already begun to license Starlink, the satellite internet constellation owned by Billionaire Elon Musk.

Within the week, Telecel announced that it had secured 100% of its internet capacity with other services currently being restored.

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Ghana have agreed to prioritize and allocate more data resources to about 8 institutions that provide critical services. The prioritised institutions include the institutions which include the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the Ghana Association of Banks (GAB), the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), Central Securities Depository, the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

PURC Requests Audit Report from ECG,  Bright Simons and Fidelity in Court Over ECG Forex Claims

Aside from the interruptions in power, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) was in the news for several reasons.

Fidelity Bank Ghana Ltd has filed a libel suit against policy analyst, Bright Simons, following his allegations of a “sweetheart forex exchange deal” between the bank and the Electricity Company of Ghana.

The Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission (PURC) also ordered the (ECG) to publish a load shedding (Dumsor) timetable amid the current power interruptions experienced around the country. The power company was also asked to submit information on their returns and investments to the commission.

Election 2024: Mahama Promises News Universities, Bawumia Says He’ll Cut Business Taxes

As we gear up for the December elections, it will not be far-fetched for us to let you know that you’ll be hearing some of the most ‘energizing’ promises and policies from all presidential aspirants.

This week, former president John Dramani Mahama who is running again for president announced at a Town Hall Meeting in Jasikan that his next administration will build a university in the six newly formed regions.

On the other side, the Vice President and flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, told a gathering of business industry players that should he win the 2024 elections, his government would provide tax amnesty as part of measures to overhaul the tax system and its burden on businesses.

Prof. Benneh, George Darko and Other News

On Wednesday, an Accra High Court sentenced Ebenezer Kwayisi, a mason apprentice, to 30 years in prison, after he pleaded guilty to playing a role in the murder of University of Ghana law lecturer, Professor Emmanuel Yaw Benneh in 2020.

On that same Wednesday, Ghana lost one of its legendary musicians, George Darko. Reports said the venerable musician had been ill for some time and was on admission at the palliative ward of the Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital in Mampong.

George Darko, stool-named Nana Ampem Darko, until his demise, was the Tufuhene of Akropong Traditional Area. He established dominance in the music scene during the 1970s – 90s with his novel Burger Highlife – and rubbed shoulders with the likes of legendary Pat Thomas, Nana Kwame Ampadu and others.

In an announcement that took everybody by surprise, Kate, the Princess of Wales in a rare video announcement said she has cancer.

Friday’s announcement follows weeks of conspiracy theories about her health and whereabouts after she first stepped back from public duties in January to recover from abdominal surgery.

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