Ghana’s government denied late Tuesday any interference in the work of an anti-graft prosecutor who resigned a day earlier accusing the president of obstructing a corruption investigation.
Special prosecutor Martin Amidu quit Monday accusing President Nana Akufo-Addo of “political interference” over a report into a controversial gold royalties deal.
This comes three weeks ahead of presidential elections that sees Akufo-Addo facing a tight race against former leader John Mahama.
“Throughout your tenure as Special Prosecutor, neither the President nor any member of his government has interfered or sought to interfere with your work,” Nana Bediatuo Asante, the secretary to the president wrote in nine-page response to the prosecutor.
Former attorney general Amidu was tasked to write a report on the plan to sell Ghanaian gold royalties to an offshore firm.
The West African government is seeking to cash in on the high price of gold and raise some $500 million dollars (420 million euros) by floating half of a gold mining fund on the London Stock Exchange.
The prosecutor’s report was published two weeks ago and the government said it was delaying the flotation in the face of opposition until after elections on December 7.
But Amidu said in his resignation letter that he had become convinced that he was “not intended to exercise any independence” in the job.
He said the president tried to get him to “shelve” the scathing report, something – which the presidency denies.
“At no point did the President ask you to shelve the report so he could ‘handle the matter’,” it said.
In fact, “the President had accepted the observations you had made” and “had acted on it,” Bediatuo Asante wrote.
The authorities insist the plan will help Ghana raise vital cash to help offset the damaging impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its economy.
Ghana is viewed as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies but corruption remains a persistent problem.
The country ranked 80th out 180 nations in Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, with a survey saying that a third of public service users had paid a bribe in the last year.