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07.01.2005 General News

Thousands endure long hours to witness Kufuor's inauguration

By GNA

Accra, Jan. 7, GNA - Thousands of Ghanaians who gathered at the Independence Square in Accra to witness the swearing-in of President John Agyekum endured about three hours of waiting to become part of the historic event.

While the elite and the middle-class showed their status with their luxurious Kente of different shades and colours or richly embroidered boubas sat quietly but anxiously, those from the grassroots wore New Patriotic Party (NPP) paraphernalia and entertained themselves with singing and dancing.

Both sides, however, welcomed the siren that heralded the arrival of the President's motorcade with great excitement of resounding cheers and applause.

President Kufuor stepped out of the Presidential Limousine donning a splendid Kente cloth, accompanied by his wife, Theresa, who also wore a beautiful Kente slit and kaba, at 1422 hours.

He waved amidst smiles to acknowledge the warm reception. He took the National Salute and then inspected a guard of honour mounted by three officers and 101 men from the Ghana Navy, under the Command of Lieutenant Peter Hammond.

The delay in the start of the programme, anticipated to have started at about 1000 hours was caused by an impasse between the NPP Majority and National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority groups in Parliament over the selection of the Speaker.

Since the swearing in ceremony was supposed to be before Parliament, members of the Legislature had to complete the election of their Speaker and his deputies before coming to the Independence Square, which had been adopted as Parliament House to accommodate the large crowd.

After inspecting the Guard of Honour, a retinue of the Speaker, Mr Ebenezer Sekyi Hughes, Clerks of Parliament, Vice President Aliu Mahama, who wore a white agbada over a Kente jumper, escorted the President to the Presidential dais.

The large crowd watched with rapt attention as Chief Justice George Kingsley Acquah administered the oaths of Allegiance and Office to the Vice President-elect, who swore by the Koran.

The President-elect then took his turn holding the cross in line with his faith as a Catholic.

The National Anthem was played to seal the swearing process amidst the booming of 21-gun salutes from a Navy vessel on the Atlantic Ocean. The President then received the State Sword and displayed it to the admiration of the enthusiastic crowd.

A group from the National Theatre Company energetically played their Fontomfrom in praise of the President and welcomed him with the sounds of their talking drums to deliver his inaugural address.

The 20-minute address opened with acknowledgement of the 18 visiting Heads of State and representatives of Governments from Africa and beyond who graced the occasion.

They included President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Chairman of African Union; President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin; President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal; President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo; President Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone; President Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali; President Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola and President Theodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.

He then thanked God for granting him the privilege to serve his country again. President Kufuor made reference to his first inaugural address, in which he pledged to serve the people of Ghana without discrimination and to resolve the economic woes of the nation as well as reconcile the people.

The President stressed that he had kept faith with the people and pledged that Chapter Two of his tenure would continue to provide good governance, the lack of which thwarted Ghana's efforts to prosper after independence. 07 Jan. 04

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