Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ex-speaker summoned for theft

Ghanaian criminal investigators have summoned the former speaker of parliament, Sekyi Hughes, over items he took from his official residence when he vacated the post, a police source said on Monday.Hughes, who was the speaker in the last four-year term of the administration of former president John Kufuor, was suppose to meet the investigators on Tuesday, the source said.The cost of the items Hughes took away - domestic appliances, furniture, electronic goods and gym equipment - has not been made public but the case has caused a huge outcry in Ghana in view of the economic challenges being faced by the government of John Atta-Mills.Ghana is grappling with a huge budget deficit, soaring inflation and rapid depreciation of the Ghanaian Cedi against major international currencies.Poor economic situation"It is not fair. It is morally wrong on the part of the former speaker to go away with the items knowing well the poor economic situation," said Bright Simons, an analyst with the think-tank IMANI.Hughes himself has denied any wrongdoing, saying he acted in accordance with a memo submitted to parliament in November 2008 which stated that the parliamentary leaders were entitled to the items in their residences.Some members of the opposition have said the former speaker is being treated unfairly."It is part of the grand design of the ruling National Democratic Congress to discredit former government officials who served in the Kufuor era. It is nothing but a witch hunt," Kwaku Kwarteng, communication director of the opposition New Patriotic Party said.The parliament's two previous speakers did not live in official residences.

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