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Police block anti-Agyapa deal demo over COVID-19

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Police block anti-Agyapa deal demo over COVID-19 1

 

The Ghana Police Service has turned down a request from the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) for permission to protest against the government’s controversial Agyapa deal.

ASEPA, a civil society group, had written to the police seeking permission to protest the controversial deal that seeks to monetize Ghana’s gold royalties.

However, the police in a response to the group’s request for a civil demonstration said the demand cannot be granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reply from the police indicates that although it acknowledges receipt of the group’s letter, restrictions imposed on public gatherings of more than 200 people without face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full force.

Police officials therefore said ASEPA’s request to have 20,000 people gather for the demonstration is impossible.

“There is the tendency that COVID-19 protocols would be breached. If permitted to demonstrate in this manner, public health and security could be endangered. Your notification to demonstrate in this COVID-19 pandemic era cannot be sanctioned please,” the statement signed by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Deputy Regional Commander for the Accra Region, E. A Sakyi explained.

But this did not go down well with ASEPA. Its Executive Director, Mensah Thompson has expressed disappointment over the development.

“We are extremely disappointed with this outcome especially when the same Executive Instrument (EI) the police are citing today as an excuse existed when the Akyem group were allowed to demonstrate,” Mr. Thompson wrote on Facebook.

“We have hereby referred the response of the police to our lawyers for appropriate action”, he added.

About the Agyapa deal

The government through the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF), has set up Agyapa Royalties Limited to manage and invest Ghana’s gold royalties and revenue from equities for higher returns for the benefit of the country.

In exchange, the company plans to raise between $500 million and $750 million for the government on the Ghana and London Stock exchanges to invest in developmental projects.

The deal has for the past few weeks sparked controversy among different groups in the country following concerns from members of the opposition.

Civil Society groups in Mines and Energy have also described the Special Purpose Vehicle as one which is not transparent and must be suspended.

Government’s defense

But the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has downplayed fears that ongoing public criticism and opposition to the Agyapa Royalties deal could drive away potential investors.

He explained that investors are savvy enough to appreciate the importance of constructive debate on a deal as important as the Agyapa Royalties Deal.

“For me, I don’t look at the criticism as noises. I feel that the market is sophisticated enough outside to understand that there will be deferring opinions. The vibrancy of democracy for people to challenge what you want to do, gives you an opinion you may not have been aware of, but still being clear on where you want to go, is something that strengthens our democracy. It also potentially sends a signal out there that Ghana’s good governance issues are good.”

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