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Ghana president replaces finance minister in reshuffle

GHANA’S president has replaced finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta in a cabinet reshuffle after criticism of the ex-banker’s leadership during the West African country’s worst economic crisis in a generation.

The office of President Nana Akufo-Addo said that Ofori-Atta would be replaced by Mohammed Amin Adam, currently the minister of state at the finance ministry and previously deputy energy minister responsible for the petroleum sector.

It did not give a reason for the change.

Ofori-Atta has been overseeing Ghana’s debt restructuring efforts after the West African gold, oil and cocoa producer defaulted on most of its external debt in December 2022.

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Inflation rose above 50% that year and the local cedi currency plummeted. Ofori-Atta faced calls for his resignation from street protesters and both opposition and ruling party MPs, which he survived.

The move to dismiss him, announced on Wednesday, comes ahead of a December election in which Vice President Mahamadu Bawumia, also an economist, will be seeking to distance himself from the country’s recent economic woes as he runs for president.

“There is a feeling that doing this… will create a much-needed new narrative for (the Vice President’s) slow-building campaign,” said Bright Simons, an analyst at Accra-based think tank IMANI Africa.

He said that overall, the reshuffle did not appear to signal any clear shift in political strategy.

Akufo-Addo chose Ofori-Atta, a relative of his, as finance minister when he became head of state in 2017, pledging to create jobs, fight poverty and boost economic growth by cutting taxes and red tape.

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Ghana’s economy has started to recover since the government last year secured a $3 billion loan programme with the International Monetary Fund, and in January reached a deal to restructure $5.4 billion of loans with its official creditors.

After Ofori-Atta’s removal, an IMF spokesperson said the fund will continue working with Ghanaian authorities on its ongoing program and debt restructuring negotiations.

“We have been in continuous dialogue with the Ghanaian authorities, including with the minister-designate when he served as deputy minister. Our commitment to assisting Ghana in achieving its objectives remains steadfast,” the spokesperson said by email.

Akufo-Addo will be stepping down next year as he has reached his two-term limit, and VP Bawumia was overwhelmingly voted presidential candidate of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

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By CHRISTIAN AKORLIE and MAXWELL AKALAARE ADOMBILA

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