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Ghana’s Finance Ministry Urges President Not To Sign Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill

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Ghana’s finance ministry has urged the president not to sign a controversial anti-LGBT bill passed by parliament last week.

It warns the country could lose a total of $3.8bn (£3bn) in World Bank funding over the next five to six years.

The bill prescribes three years in jail for identifying as LGBT+ and five years for promoting LGBT+ activities.

Ghana is suffering a major economic crisis and last year had a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

There are concerns that any shortfall in funding from the World Bank and other donors could derail the economic recovery.

In a highly unusual move, the warning from the finance ministry was leaked to several media, including the BBC.

It recommends that President Nana Akufo-Addo defer signing the bill until the Supreme Court rules on whether it aligns with the constitution. Human rights groups went to court even before it was passed by parliament but it is unlikely to be heard by the Supreme Court for some time.

Ghana’s president has seven days after receiving the bill to decide whether to sign it into law and if he doesn’t, 14 days to give reasons. Although the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill was passed by parliament last Thursday, it has not yet been sent to the president for his assent.

Mr Akufo-Addo is reported to be holding meetings with key ministries and donors to assess the impact of the Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill.

The US, UK and human rights groups have already condemned the bill, which was backed by both of Ghana’s two main political parties.

Last year, the World Bank announced it would freeze new loans to Uganda in response to the introduction anti-LGBT legislation which is even tougher than that passed in Ghana.

According to Bloomberg, the IMF said in a statement that it was monitoring developments in Ghana, adding that “diversity and inclusion are values that the IMF embraces”.

This year alone, Ghana could lose about $850m (£670m) in support, which officials say will negatively impact an already struggling economy, reduce the country’s foreign reserves, and affect exchange rate stability.

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It’s called democracy’ – Trump defends trying to influence election

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The prosecution in Donald Trump’s trial has insisted that the former President “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election” in his efforts to cover up an alleged affair with the adult film star, Stormy Daniels.

The prosecution said this on Monday in its opening statement in Trump’s criminal trial.

However, the defense countered that “there’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election – it’s called democracy”.

Apart from hearing the opening statements from both sides, the trial also briefly heard from its first witness, David Pecker.

Pecker was the former publisher of the National Enquirer, a central figure in Trump’s alleged crimes.

A jury of seven men and five women living in Manhattan will weigh whether Trump’s alleged efforts to conceal an affair with Daniels, which he feared would damage his bid for the White House, were illicit.

The former President was dragged to court with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the early 2023.

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One Killed, 7 Missing As 2 Japanese Navy Helicopters Crash In Pacific Ocean During Training

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One person has been killed while seven others are missing after two Japanese navy helicopters carrying eight crew members crashed in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo during nighttime.

The two SH-60K choppers from the Maritime Self-Defense Force were carrying four crew each and lost contact late Saturday near Torishima island, about 600 kilometres (370 miles) south of Tokyo, the country’s Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters.

AP reports that Kihara said the cause of the crash was not immediately known, but officials believe the two helicopters “highly likely” collided before crashing into the water.

The navy chief of staff, Adm. Ryo Sakai, said training involving the SH-60s will be suspended until the cause of the crash is determined and preventive measures are adopted.

Rescuers recovered a flight data recorder, a blade from each helicopter, and fragments believed to be from both choppers in the same area, signs that the two SH-60Ks were flying close to each other, Kihara said.

Search and rescue efforts for the missing crew were expanded Sunday with the deployment of 12 warships and seven aircraft. Japan Coast Guard patrol boats and planes also joined the operation.

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Togo’s parliament approves constitutional reforms extending Gnassingbé’s rule

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Togo’s parliament has given approval to a new constitution that extends President Faure Gnassingbé’s term.

The parliament on Friday gave the approval which shifts the West African nation from a presidential to a parliamentary system of government.

It also modifies both the term limits and methods of presidential election.

The reforms enable Gnassingbé to remain in power until 2031, after which he could be appointed to the new position of “president of the council of ministers”.

The new arrangement, when effective, transforms the president to prime minister – continuing his family’s 57-year rule.

The parliament initially passed the amendment in March.

However, further consultations and a second parliamentary vote were scheduled due to fierce backlash.

Opposition groups said the reforms amounted to a constitutional coup, but Yawa Tségan, human rights minister, said the move will “improve democracy in the country”.

Gnassingbé came to power in 2005 after the death of his father, who took over the coastal West African country in 1967 via a coup.

Violent police crackdowns on political demonstrations have been routine under Gnassingbe, as they were during his father’s rule.

Groups of civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to intervene in the amendments.

Other West African countries which have made constitutional reforms to allow presidents extend their tenures in office include Central African Republic, Rwanda, Congo Republic, Ivory Coast, and Guinea.

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