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COVID-19: Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo opens land, sea borders after 2 years

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Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo has announced the opening of sea and land borders, 2 years he announced the closure of borders to the West African country in the wake of the global pandemic – Covid-19.

The president made the announcement in his 28th Covid-19 address on Monday. The announcement takes effect immediately.

The president stressed that the economy would soon rebound and cited a “review premised on the background of rapidly declining Covid-19 infections, the relative success of the vaccination campaign … and the increased capacity in the public and private health sectors”.

The World Health Organization says Ghana has so far vaccinated over 14 million people with a single dose and over five million fully vaccinated – 16.3% of the population.

A vaccination overview obtained from https://ourworldindata.org/

The president also declared that all in-person activities such as private parties, churches, mosques, cinemas are to resume at full capacity as long as the audience is fully vaccinated while fully vaccinated travellers to Ghana will not have to take tests when they leave for the West African country nor will they have to take a test upon arrival in Ghana.

According to the World Bank, Ghana’s rapid growth was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the March 2020 lockdown, and a sharp decline in commodity exports. The economy had grown at an average of 7 percent in 2017-19, before experiencing a sharp contraction in the second and third quarters of 2020.

The economic slowdown had a considerable impact on households. The poverty rate is estimated to have slightly increased from 25 percent in 2019 to 25.5 percent in 2020.

With the declaration of the opening of borders, Ghana’s economy is projected to recover gradually over the medium term, thanks to commodity price growth and strong domestic demand. The West African country largely depends on cross-border trade with Togo, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso.

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Killing of Pakistani journalist in Kenya targeted assassination, investigators say

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A team of Pakistani investigators who investigated the killing of veteran journalist and news anchor, Arshad Sharif, in Kenya, have released a report saying his murder was a planned and targeted assassination’.

Sharif, who was very critical of Pakistan’s government andpowerful army, was killed on October 23 when police shot at his car on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The Kenyan Police was to later release a statement saying it regretted the incident, claiming it was a case of “mistaken identity” during a search for a similar car involved in a child abduction case.

“This was a planned, targeted assassination … rather than a case of mistaken identity as the Kenyan police claimed,” the report said.

The report further suggested the bullet that fatally wounded Sharif was fired from either inside the car or from close range.

Sharif’s killing had led to condemnations and calls for an independent probe with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, announcing an investigation and promising that his government’s findings would be made public.

The investigators’ 592-page report released on Wednesday, seen by said the Kenyan Police issued contradictory statements following the killing of the 49-year-old journalist who was living in exile after he fled Pakistan in August to avoid arrest in the wake of multiple cases, including sedition charges, slapped on him for making comments on his show which the military and government deemed inciting and offensive.

As part of the investigation, two Pakistani officials had travelled to Kenya where they met with police and Sharif’s brothers Khurram and Waqar Ahmed, are residents in the eastern African country.

According to the report, Khurram told the investigators he had been in the car with Sharif at the time of the shooting, travelling home after dinner.

“They saw the roadblock, which Khurram believed to have been set up by robbers. As they sped through, he heard the fatal gunshots,” part of the report said.

“Khurram said he then called his brother who advised that he keep driving until they reached the family’s farmhouse, several kilometres away. Once at the house, the brothers found Sharif was already dead,” it added.

Meanwhile, Islamabad police have charged two Pakistani businessmen living in Kenya, who had hosted Sharif in the African country, with involvement in his killing.

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Nigerian Army denies Reuters reports of forced “abortion programme” for Boko Haram victims

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The Nigerian Army has debunked a report by international media outfit, Reuters, which indicted the military authorities of forcefully terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies for female victims of Boko Haram jihadists who were abducted and impregnated by the terrorists in northeast Nigeria.

The news agency had, in a report on Wednesday, accused the Nigerian military of “conducting years-long illicit programme to carry out abortions among women and girls who have been victims of armed groups.”

“Since at least 2013, the Nigerian military has conducted a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the country’s northeast, ending at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls,” the agency said.

It also said many of the women and girls had been kidnapped and raped by the armed fighters, and those who resisted an abortion ran the risk of being “beaten, held at gunpoint or drugged into compliance.”

Reuters said its report was based on witness statements from 33 women and girls, five health workers, and nine security personnel involved in the alleged programme, and on military documents and hospital records describing or tallying thousands of abortion procedures.

“Most of the abortions were carried out without the women’s consent and some were conducted without their prior knowledge, through abortion-inducing pills or injections passed off as medications to boost health or combat disease,” the agency said.

But in a response on Thursday, the Nigerian Army denied the report, describing it as “a body of insults on the Nigerian peoples and culture.”

In a statement signed by Army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Bernard Nwachukwu, said “Nigerian military personnel have been raised, bred and further trained to protect lives.”

“The Nigerian military will not, therefore, contemplate such evil of running a systematic and illegal abortion programme anywhere and anytime, and surely not on our own soil,” the statement said.

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