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17.10.2008 General News

Be neutral, Kufuor tells soldiers

Be neutral, Kufuor tells soldiers

President J.A. Kufuor on Thursday announced a package aimed at improving the conditions of service of personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).

He also pledged that his administration would do nothing to compromise the peace and security of the country.

At, an open durbar with the officers and men of the GAF at Burma Camp, President Kufuor said it had been his desire to bequeath to Ghana a legacy of peace and security after his two-term presidency and urged the soldiers to remain neutral during the elections.

As part of the measures to enhance the work of the GAF, the President announced that the government had taken delivery of three naval boats from the United States while talks were being held with the Korean government for the acquisition of more boats for the Ghana Navy.

President Kufuor further announced an increase in the peacekeeping allowance from $25 to $27 and urged military personnel to reciprocate the government's gesture by being law-abiding and demonstrating the highest level of professionalism during the election period.

He said the nation would count on the GAF, the police and all the other security agencies for the maintenance of peace and security before, during and after the elections.

He said with less than three months to the presidential and parliamentary elections, the country's continued stability was what should engage them and urged them to guard against propaganda, which he said was part of the political game "but not everything said on the campaign trail has merit".

President Kufuor said it was certainly not time that there were plans to reduce the length of service for the other ranks in the GAF and said 25 years remained the limit.

He said as provided for in the existing regulations additional service might be approved at the discretion of the Chief of the Defence Staff.

On a note of caution, he pointed out that Ghana was by no means insulated against the turbulence in the oil market and world-wide food shortages that had occasioned civil strife in other countries but he was pleased to note that in the case of Ghana fuel remained available and Ghanaians did not have to be in long queues to buy anything.
President Kufuor congratulated the soldiers on their contribution to the maintenance of law and order, as well as international peacekeeping, in which area they continued to excel, to the joy of the country.

He said the prevailing environment of peace and stability had provided a good foundation for national development, adding that after HIPC the economy had bounced back and was ready to support enhanced delivery of social services, in particular education and health.

On behalf of the GAF, the Minister of Defence, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, said they were prepared to play their role in ensuring that peace and tranquility prevailed before, during and after the elections.

He said the GAF had also assessed the threats associated with oil exploration and mapped out strategies to address them.

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Lt Gen J.B. Danquah, said money was being worked out to enable the service to release soldiers who were due for pension.

He said at the moment there was an outstanding list of soldiers to be released and appealed to those soldiers to exercise restraint while their entitlements were worked out for them to proceed on peaceful retirement.

He appealed to the President to speed up the processes to acquire more logistics for the GAF.

The personnel were offered the opportunity to ask questions, during which some of them particularly the civilian employees of the GAF, said they did not benefit from the peacekeeping allowance and other packages.

They, therefore, appealed to the President to announce packages that would benefit them too.