DR. ALPHA OMAR Konare, the former President of Mali has wished Ghana peace in the impending general election, stating that it is an essential prerequisite for the advancement of the nation.
At a meeting with President John Agyekum Kufuor at the Castle yesterday, Omar Konare explained that peace was the only necessary condition for the success of the election and progress of the nation.
Likening the impending polls to a race, he said one needed to pass on the baton at the right time to the right person “for the race to continue”.
Dr Konare, who is also the former Chairman of the African Union, related that the race in the case of Ghana was not only for the country but for Africa as a whole “and that should never stop”.
Before the two leaders retreated for a closed-door meeting, the former AU Chairman told President Kufuor, who also ended his chairmanship of the AU recently, that his visit was to give details about a project he intended undertaking in Africa and he was here to solicit Ghana's support.
He recalled how Ghana played a major role in the struggle for Africa's liberation.
“I should say that the people of Ghana are happy to welcome you,” said President Kufuor who described the former AU Chairman as one who served Africa with distinction, “and even in your retirement you have come back to serve the continent”.
He expressed his appreciation of the analogy Dr Konare made about the transfer of power, and added that no matter how well one ran the race, it would be in vain “if you do not hand over appropriately”.
Intimating how the issue of a peaceful election and transfer of power had engaged his attention, President Kufuor reiterated his assurance to the nation and the whole world that he would go all out to ensure a free and fair election.
Later, President Kufuor received letters of credence from three envoys who have been posted to Ghana by their countries as representatives.
They were Keiichi Katakami, Japanese Ambassador-designate to Ghana; Lee Sang Hak, Korean Ambassador-designate; and Victoria Mendez-Charles, representative of Trinidad and Tobago.
To the Japanese Ambassador, President Kufuor stated that the tree planted by Noguchi, a Japanese medical expert who died in Ghana, still provides comfortable shade over the relationship between Ghana and Japan.
He expressed the hope that for the period Mr. Katakami would be representing his country in Ghana, the relationship between the two countries would grow even stronger.
He praised the Japan government for supporting Ghana in various sectors, citing the recently commissioned Mallam-Yamoransa highway that was sponsored through JICA; and mentioned that Japan had expressed interest in supporting more of such projects.
Mr. Katakami observed that Ghana was on the threshold of a take-off and “Japan is ready to provide the needed assistance”.
The Korean Ambassador-designate stated that Ghana was famous in his home country because of the political and economic stability attained by President Kufuor during his eight-year tenure.
Mrs. Mendez-Charles, who will be resident in Nigeria, gave the assurance that she would give of her best to facilitate the trade agreements and direct air travel discussions held between the leaders of the two countries.
She later congratulated President Kufuor on the recent honour conferred on him by the Liberian government in recognition of his contribution to peace and stability in that country.
By Emelia Ennin