05.04.2005 General News

Rawlings signs Book of Condolence

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Accra, April 5, GNA- Former President Jerry John Rawlings accompanied by his wife, Nana Konadu on Tuesday signed the Book of Condolence in memory of Pope John Paul II at the Apostolic Nunciature in Accra.

The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop George Kocherry, who escorted them to sign the book, welcomed them.

The couple jointly signed the message by Former President Rawlings who wrote; " the world lives with the hope that your noble legacy will be sustained by your successor. By your humble admirer and servants in the name of Christ."

Nana Konadu also wrote on the same page": "your attributes have kept many of us going and staying strong".

In an interview with Journalists, Former President Rawlings described the Pontiff as a humble and bold man, who led a truthful Christian life. "He lived what is expected of a true Christian."

He, however, said it would not be possible for him to participate in the Thursday's mass to be held for the Pontiff due to his scheduled official meeting, which he was to attend in South Africa and in Boston. He, however, said: "I would have jumped straight to Rome if I could afford," adding, "we will continue to hold a private prayer for him as we have been doing".

On the next successor, Former President Rawlings said he was hopeful the Vatican would make a brilliant choice as they had been doing. Mr Victor Smith, Special Assistant to the Former President and Mr Victor Gbeho, a former Minster of Foreign Affairs, accompanied the couple.

Among the dignitaries, who signed the book were the Italian Ambassador to Ghana, who was the first to sign at exactly 0900 and Mr Musu Ruhle, Charge' De Affairs of the Embassy of Liberia.

Others were, Mr Lee Sang-pal, Ambassador of Korea; Ambassador Arie Van der Weil of The Netherlands; Sir Lawrence Owusu Prempeh, Knight Commander of St. Sylvester, on behalf of the Papal Knights; Mr A.K Deku, Member of the Council of State; Mr Henry Paul Nelson, Secretary General of the Pan African Laity and Ms Nokukhuanya Matshikwe, First Secretary at the High Commission of South Africa.

Members of the public were also there to sign the book, which would be sent to the Vatican in Rome.

The book would remain open till Monday April 11 from 0900 hours to 1300 hours every day except Thursday April 7.

The Pontiff aged 84 died on Saturday, April 2. Tens of thousands of people have been filing past the body, which is lying in state at St the Peters' Basilica before burial on Friday April 8.

Pope John Paul II, who served for 26 years, was the first non-Italian Pontiff elected in about four-and-a-half centuries. He was elected in 1978.

Meanwhile, the Vatican has declared nine days of mourning. Flags are flying at half-mast throughout Ghana in memory of the Pope.

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