The visiting Vice-President of the United States (US), Kamala Harris, has given an assurance that her country supports Ghana's engagement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and will continue to push for all bilateral creditors to provide meaningful debt reduction for Ghana.
“I recognise the challenges Ghanaians are facing, especially in the wake of a global pandemic and the disruptions caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine,” she said, and noted that the US welcomed Ghana’s commitment to reform its economy to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth.
Vice-President Harris gave the assurance yesterday during a joint press conference with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House in Accra.
Ms Harris also announced a $100-million support for Ghana, Benin, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Togo to help them address the threats of violent extremism and instability.
That was shortly after the US Vice-President, who is on a three-day state visit to Ghana, had held bilateral talks with President Akufo-Addo and some officials on both sides.
The Ghana team included Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia.
The discussions ranged from long-term economic outlook, regional security, human rights, democracy to good governance.
Earlier, Vice-President Harris, who had entered the Jubilee House through the Ceremonial Gate, opposite the Christ the King Church, had been escorted to the saluting dais for the National Salute and the national anthem of the USA played by the Ghana Armed Forces Mass Band.
She also inspected the Front Rank of a Guard of Honour, while some soldiers also fired gun salutes.
After the ceremony, Vice-President Harris was ushered into the Foyer of the Jubilee House by the Director of State Protocol, Samuel Yaw Kumah, and she was met by President Akufo-Addo and his wife, Rebecca Akufo-Addo.
After the introduction of government officials to the visiting Vice-President and vice versa, the two went straight to the Ceremonial Room where they had a tete-a-tete and later joined the officials for the bilateral talks.
“We welcome Ghana’s commitment to reform its economy to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth. We support Ghana's engagement with the IMF and will continue to push for all bilateral creditors to provide meaningful debt reduction for countries that need it, including Ghana,” Vice-President Harris said.
She noted that all must work together as an international community to ease the debt burden that was facing many countries, noting that it was critical to build long-term economic growth and prosperity and to increase US investment.
“Our partnership with Ghana is already stronger and, today, Mr President, I believe we strengthen it even more,” the US Vice-President, who will leave the country tomorrow for Tanzania and later to Zambia, said.
Ms Harris announced a $100-million support for Ghana, Benin, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Togo to help them address the threats of violent extremism and instability.
The amount, she explained, was in consonance with the announcement by President Joe Biden last week, dubbed: “Strategic Plan for Coastal West Africa”, as part of the US strategy to prevent conflict and promote stability.
She said the funding would help implement that plan and “we'll address security, governance and development issues in the region”.
Beacon of democracy
Vice-President Harris, who is the first US female Vice-President, said African nations, such as Ghana, played a critical role in a number of global issues, ranging from food security, climate crisis or resilience to supply chains.
“African voices, including that of Ghana, are critical to global peace and security, including the defence of the United Nations Charter and African ingenuity and innovation, which I’m certain will shape the future of the world,” she added.
“Mr President, under your leadership, Ghana has been a beacon of democracy and contributor to global peace and security. Your leadership in particular and personal engagement have strengthened the ties between the Diaspora and the continent of Africa and President Biden is grateful to have you as a partner,” she indicated.
She traced Ghana-US relations back to 1957 and how Ghana’s independence inspired millions of Americans and millions more around the world and how Martin Luther King Jr and many other Americans came to celebrate that occasion and witnessed the dawn of a new era.
Year of Return
Ms Harris added that hundreds of thousands of Black Americans came to Ghana in 2019 to participate in the Year of the Return and more continued to return every year as a reminder of the history of slavery to honour their lineage and understand their ancestry.
She quoted a recent statement by President Akufo-Addo in Parliament: “It is important we never forget that democracy is not a static event but a promise that needs continuous nurturing,” and added that she also believed that there was a duality when it came to democracy.
Vice-President Harris commended the leadership of President Akufo-Addo, especially his response to recent coups in West Africa and standing up for democratic principles around the world, adding: “We also recognise Ghana’s significant contributions in the Sahel and I thank you for your leadership there.”
Answering a question from a New York Times reporter during the joint press conference that Ghana had a law that punished gay people, President Akufo-Addo reiterated his assurance that the representatives of the people in Parliament would enact a law that recognised the sensibilities of human rights and the feelings of the Ghanaian population with regard to the LGBTQ Bill before the House.
He explained that the bill, which was a Private Members’, was going through the parliamentary process and expressed the belief that, as usual, Ghana’s Parliament would rise to the occasion.
The President said the process had attracted inputs from the Office of the Attorney-General (A-G) regarding the constitutionality or otherwise of several provisions which the House was dealing with.
He explained that his understanding, from a recent discussion with the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee dealing with the bill, was that the substantial elements of the bill had already been modified as a result of the intervention of the A-G’s Office.
Regarding issues about the presence of the Wagner Group, also known as PMC Wagner, a Russian private military company, in West Africa, President Akufo-Addo said Ghana was concerned about it and had made that known.
He explained that the presence of the military group raised real issues that those in the West African region and on the continent must be worried about because they did not want the continent to become the playground for great power conflicts.
The President added that keeping the country and the continent free from great power rivalry was what Ghana was trying to do, hence the country’s major preoccupation.
“We want to be in a position to resolve our own security problems ourselves as much as possible, without the intervention of foreign troops,” he stressed.