Accra, Sept. 3, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Friday called on the security agencies especially the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to maintain a high level of professionalism and political neutrality during election 2004.
He said the period required the exercise of great circumspection in the performance of their duties in the public domain, adding: "This is the surest way to win total credibility of the electorate."
President Kufuor made the call when addressing the 2004 Graduation Parade of 58 Cadet Officers commissioned into the GAF at the Military Academy and Training School (MATS) at Teshie, near Accra.
Some of the Officers including six women underwent the Standard Military Course for a period of 32 weeks and the Regular Career Course of 52 weeks, while others went in for a Short Service Commission and Special Duties Course also for 32 weeks. It is run for professionals and servicemen whose services are required by the GAF as specialist officers.
President Kufuor reiterated the Government's commitment to free and fair elections and expressed the hope that contesting political parties would respond in kind to give Ghana a peaceful and successful elections. He said over the years, peacekeeping duties had continued and the professionalism of Ghanaian soldiers in the programme had been acclaimed internationally, but when they strayed into politics, abrogated constitutions and violated human rights, the natural trust that should have existed between the military and society was undermined.
President Kufuor said the Government on assumption of office deemed it a high priority to have the military to restore itself to its proper constitutional status and regain the respect and trust of the society.
" Happily the military has shown a resolution and determination to achieve these objectives. Our military has indeed been re-oriented and is now playing its constitutional role".
" Soldiers are no longer seen as a separate entity outside the rest of society, rather the Institution is now generally perceived as a very important organ within the democratic dispensation with a mission to protect and serve the state", he added.
To the graduating Officers, President Kufuor said the challenges that confront their profession in the globalised world required them to be "wholly committed to continual learning and training, a pursuit of excellence and also have the courage to uphold one's professional ethics".
"Your predecessors have travelled this road and have established a high reputation for the GAF. It is your duty to follow their footsteps through professionalism and the dignity of your conduct", he said. Rear Admiral J.Y. Adoko, Commandant of MATS in a message to the graduands said the Armed Forces demanded high personal and moral standards, values of loyalty and respect.
" Sometimes you will have to even give up your lives to protect others which shows that your commitment must be total", he said. Rear Admiral Adoko said the current political environment also demanded a new culture of a responsible soldier's attitude because the general election would come with its own peculiar demands on the Armed Forces which required them to be firm but fair.
He said they should be seen as an active participant in the resolution of whatever problems that might crop up.
The Commandant said on the world scene, there were more difficult demands that required the Ghanaian soldier to be part of the solution to the several conflict situations involving civil wars and ethnic killings with their attendant refugee problems.
President Kufuor later presented awards to deserving officers, the Sword of Honour for the best all round officer cadet went to 28-year-old Peter Amoah.
Cadet Officer Evelyn Amma Ntiamoah Agyeman won the military cane, Cadet Officer Bernice Ama Darkoa Antwi won the academic prize, the Commandant's prize was won by Cadet Sergeant Patrick Kwame Effah while Midshipman Anthony Osei Agyeman won the Sextant award for being adjudged the best in naval skills.