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Brawl in Ghana's parliament over proposed e-levy

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Ghana politics

A massive brawl broke out in the Ghanaian parliament on Monday following a dispute over a proposed tax on electronic transactions.

The skirmishes rocked the floor Monday night with some leaders seen throwing punches, ripping shirts and while some throwing kicks at each other.

The commotion led to the adjournment of the proceedings.

The disagreement was further sparked by the absence of the speaker, Mr. Alban Bagdin even as the house finance committee tabled the motion.

The speaker had delegated his deputy to take over the house proceeding following his absence on Monday afternoon.

The opposition members were irked when the deputy speaker stood to vote on the e-levy tax.

In viral videos on social media, the legislators surrounded the podium to prevent the deputy speaker from voting.

The bill was presented as an urgent proposal in the parliament, a request that didn't go well with the opposition legislators.

Lawmakers from the two political divides harshly debated on the 1.75 percent e-levy on all mobile, a bill that was proposed last month.

The opposition members of parliament said the proposed levy will affect people of lower-income who extensively rely on mobile transactions for their daily lives.

According to Ghanaian Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, the levy would widen the tax revenue to $1.15 billion in 2022.

A vote on whether to proceed with the urgency procedure will be debated again on January 18.

The recent August protest in Ghana saw several thousand demonstrators march in the capital Accra in the latest rally against President Nana Akufo-Addo's government under the slogan "#FixTheCountry".

With the economy hit hard by the pandemic, the government has introduced new taxes and high fuel prices have also hiked the cost of some basic goods and services.

Ghana is often applauded as one of the stable democracies in a region troubled by political strife and jihadist violence. But last year's tightly contested vote heightened political tensions.

This is the third time Ghanaian parliamentarians have had a brawl. In January, opposition politicians clashed in Ghana's parliament, prompting a military intervention.

Legislators were voting to choose the next parliament speaker. Chaos erupted after a lawmaker from the ruling party tried to seize the ballot box.

The ensuing clash lasted several hours until the army moved in, with national television broadcasting the drama live.