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Ghana opposition chief highlights economic 'crisis'

10 October 2016, 10:27

Accra - Ghana's main opposition leader Nana Addo Akufo-Addo on Sunday lambasted the government for 'an economy in crisis" as he released his manifesto ahead of presidential polls in December.

Akufo-Addo accused his rival of unduly benefiting from the country's oil boom and being hopelessly out of touch with people in desperate need of an economic boost.

Later in the afternoon, the candidate appeared at a rally for thousands of his supporters decked out in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) colours of red, white and blue.

When Akufo-Addo was introduced as the "incorruptible leader", the crowd roared and blew tiny vuvuzela-like horns, while a huge elephant balloon - the party's mascot - floated overhead.

"If the president will only look a bit closer, behind his immediate circle of family and friends, he will see and feel the agony of Ghanaians," Akufo-Addo said at the manifesto launch in the nation's capital of Accra.

"He will recognise that this is indeed an economy in crisis," Akufo-Addo said.

"If the president looked a little closer, he will see the army of desperate young unemployed who are in despair."

Fallen star

Ghana was once hailed as a regional growth model but has lost its lustre after taking on too much debt, with electricity shortages compounding the pain of low export revenues.

The West African country, a cocoa, oil and gold exporter, was forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2015 for a bailout as global commodity prices tanked.

With the election just two months away, Akufo-Addo has seized the offensive and homed in on the country's poor economic performance under President John Mahama.

"The discovery of oil has not made any difference in the lives of most Ghanaians, except for a small group of friends and family around the president," said the NPP manifesto. "The country is clearly not working."

Last month, Mahama launched his manifesto, promising to double GDP growth to eight per cent next year.

But Akufo-Addo has set an even more ambitious goal: double-digit growth "for the next four years" by slashing taxes and introducing a fiscal council to oversee the budget.

"We have made good promises to you," Akufo-Addo said at the rally, pledging to revamp the country's health care system and make high school education free.

"I'm not only bragging, I will make sure it happens."

The NPP stalwart is leading the party for the third time after losing in 2008 and 2012 to the ruling National Democratic Congress.

A tight poll race is expected on December 7 with frustrated voters enduring power blackouts and rising inflation.



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