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09.03.2005 General News

Ex-Aussie Envoy lauds Ghana's role in C'wealth

By GNA

Accra, March 9, GNA - A former Australian High Commissioner in Accra has lauded Ghana for playing a leading role in the Commonwealth. "Just as it led the way at independence, Ghana today, having gone through the testing fires of experience, plays a leading role in the Commonwealth," Mr Matthew Neuhaus, who is the current Director, Political Affairs of the Commonwealth Secretariat, said.

"It is a role of which its citizens can be very proud," he said in a statement to the Ghana News Agency on the significance of the Commonwealth to Ghana.

Mr Neuhaus said when Ghana became independent in 1957 and joined the Commonwealth she blazed a trail for the many other African nations that joined in the following years.

She also played a key role in the Commonwealth's successful efforts to help end apartheid in South Africa and to bring multiracial independence to Zimbabwe.

Mr Neuhaus said Ghana's ups and downs since independence had been mirrored in the experience of many other Commonwealth African members. "After a difficult period of military coups, army rule and economic mismanagement, Ghana, with the support of the Commonwealth, was able to re-establish democratic governance and prosper economically. "It then led the push for ending military rule in other Commonwealth nations.

"It was during Ghana's period as a fellow member, with Australia, of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in the 1990s, that its West African neighbours, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia were all transformed from military dictatorships to democracies.

"Today, military rule in Commonwealth Africa is a thing of the past. Moreover, recent events in Togo suggest the Commonwealth example is now spreading to the whole Continent."

Mr Neuhaus said Ghana led the way again with the peaceful transfer of power from the Government to the opposition following Election 2000.

This example, he noted, had since been replicated in Kenya and had demonstrated that such political change was no more alien to Africa than to any other continent.

"Many of these events occurred while I was Australian High Commissioner to Ghana from 1997 - 2000," Mr Neuhaus noted. "The Commonwealth was always central to our close bilateral relationship, and the common values we shared through it helped to bridge the vast geographical distance that separated our two countries."

He said as Political Director of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, he turned frequently to Ghana for support for other Commonwealth countries - be it from Ghana's best practice Electoral Commission, its judges and lawyers or its Members of Parliament.

Mr Neuhaus said Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Legal Director at the Commonwealth Secretariat, was a key colleague in efforts to strengthen democracy and the rule of law throughout the Commonwealth. Commonwealth Day falls on Monday, March 14.

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