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General News of Thursday, 24 April 2014

Source: The New Statesman

Pressure Group: “Did the Mahama plane carry gold to Iran?”

Ghanaians for a Better Government, a new pressure group set up to expose bad governance and push for transparency, says the recent revelations over a trip made from the Presidency of Ghana to Iran, led by Ibrahim Mahama, brother of President Mahama, has the potential to destroy Ghana’s reputation.

In a press statement signed by David Asante, spokesperson of the pressure group, it stated that information it has picked up indicates that the American government suspects Ghana of secretly supplying gold to Iran in exchange for oil, which the government of Ghana sells on the high seas.

These allegations, according to the group, can be disastrous for Ghana’s relations with the international community, bearing in mind the sanctions that have been placed on Iran, adding that it is incumbent on the Mahama government to come out and debunk these allegations.

In view of this, the group has expressed worry and reservations about the dodgy, dark and clandestine nature of the visit to Iran by a Ghanaian government delegation, led by Ibrahim Mahama, asking “is Ibrahim Mahama the de facto prime minister of this our Republic?”

According to the group, the continuous meddling in the affairs of government by the brother of the President is very worrying, and wonders why Ibrahim Mahama would lead a Ghanaian delegation to hold consultative meetings with the Iranians.

“If, indeed, the President’s brother has an official position in government, we have no problem with that, but that fact must be official,” the statement added.

The statement by Engineers and Planners, the company owned by Ibrahim Mahama, in disputing claims by the New York Times Newspaper stating that the delegation led by Ibrahim Mahama was purely a private business delegation, whilst another official at the Presidency has also told the media that Ibrahim Mahama was not part of that trip, has led to the group asking what the Mahama government is hiding.

“All the reports from the New York Times and the Iranian Foreign Ministry never mentioned a private business delegation, but an official government of Ghana delegation who met Iranian counterparts as part of a broader push to expand cooperation between the two countries,” the GBG stated.

The statement continued, “In view of these contradictory statements being bandied about by Engineers & Planners and the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Ghanaians for a Better Government are calling on the John Mahama government to come clean on which Ghanaian delegation was in Iran and what the nature of the consultative talks were about.”

According to the group, if the version of events as reiterated by the Iranian Foreign Ministry is not true and a bunch of lies, “we are urging the Ghanaian government to call on the Iranians to retract their story as this is damaging to the image of Ghana.”

Aside government coming clean on the nature of its dealings with Iran, the group is also worried about the blatant conflict of interest at play, in the fact that President Mahama will allow government to hire for official functions a private jet acquired by his brother, Ibrahim Mahama.

“This is clearly a case of conflict of interest and a glorified form of sole-sourcing. This jet is currently being rented by the government of Ghana, with the proceeds going into the pockets of the President’s brother, a win-win situation for the President and his brother,” the statement said.

Quoting from what HK Prempeh, who is with the Centre for Democratic Development and a respected law Professor in the United States, had to say about this development:

“Are we supposed to find nothing wrong with the fact that a President's brother, on or around the eve of his brother becoming President announces his purchase of a private jet, which jet, we now learn, is being rented by the Government of Ghana presided over by his brother for use by the Government of Ghana on official trips abroad. ‘Hey big bro le Presidente, how about this? You are the President, right? So, why don't I buy or lease a jet, and you get your government to rent it from me for use by the government on official trips. Win-win, me and you! High fives!’

“Nice, guaranteed, captive market. All-in-the-family sole sourcing. No questions asked.

“Please, if you are the CEO at your workplace, don't try this sort of monkey business. You will be promptly fired. That is, unless your place of work is Ghana--or, more precisely, the government of Ghana.

“In my world, this is a textbook case of prohibited conflict of interests. (Yes, I have been teaching this sort of thing in my corporate law/corporate governance and legal ethics classes for years.) How is this called in your world?”

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