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24.05.2005 General News

There is hope for Africa- Joe Clark

By GNA

Accra, May 24, GNA- Former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark has expressed optimism on the development of the African continent despite its obvious challenges. He said the Continent had chalked some successes, which were rather not being showcased.

Mr. Clark made the point in a roundtable on the topic: "Canada- Africa Relations in the 21st Century", organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development in Accra.

The forum, which was attended by politicians, development workers and journalists, discussed the conduct of elections on the Continent, Africa's debt problem and the flow of aids to the country, and development strategies of the African Continent." Mr Joe Clarke said New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), with its peer review mechanism were remarkable and called for the support for the development goals set out in the document. He said there were very serious registration flaws about the recent elections in Cameroon, and promised to make recommendations to the Commonwealth Secretary General, Don McKinnon on improving elections on the continent.

The Former Prime Minister said the decision of electoral authorities must be free from political interference, which must be ensured by civil society groups and independent groups.

Elections results, he said, reflected the view of the voters. Mr Clark said a fundamental positive political development was one that transformed the lives of the people, stating that Canada was becoming more interested in corporate social responsibility as way of addressing needs of the people.

He called for a close collaboration with, and promotion of foreign multilateral companies and the private sector companies, and pointed out that foreign companies, when they ceased their operations must cushion the local private ones.

.. Mr Clark announced that Canada and Ghana were in discussions over a project to log tree stumps that had been major cause of accidents of travelling on the Volta Lake. He called for preference of legitimate parties that reconciled differences to those that built on differences. Mr John Mahama, MP for Bole Bamboi and former Minister for Communications noted that one of the problems of NEPAD and the Africa Union was growing scepticism since former development programmes had met with little or no success.

He said the developed countries must not cut out aid to the developing countries but rather deal with corruption to ensure that development assistance went into programmes it was meant for. Mr Rapulane Molekane, the South African High Commissioner in Accra, who chaired the discussion praised the efforts of Canada in the fight against apartheid, and also lauded that country for its assistance to African countries.

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