Kufuor: Osu Castle is unsuitable for residence-
Accra, Feb. 14, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday said the Osu Castle, a former slave post, was so unsuitable for residence that it should surprise no one that none of Ghana's Prime Ministers and Presidents of the past could live there full time.
In his last State of the Nation address to Parliament, he said: "It is an open secret that as President of the nation that attained independence 50 years ago ahead of the pack in Black Africa, I commute to work from my own self-built home."
He said the Flagstaff House was being rebuilt to accommodate the next President of Ghana in dignity and that the Peduase, Akosombo and Akuse lodges which were built as presidential retreat in the first republic, had all been refurbished.
President Kufuor said this was not for the vanity of the Presidency, rather, they were national assets that deserved better than the neglect to which they had been consigned in the past.
He said the money for the Flagstaff House was not from the budget but was sourced from soft loans repayable over a 25-year period, with a five-year moratorium.
Turning to foreign relations, the President said respect for the country was shown in the number of international conferences attracted to her in recent times and that in the next few days, Ghana would host the President of the US, Mr George W. Bush.
He said Ghana was Chair of the African Union (AU) in July last year when the AU was engaged in the Great Debate on Africa's future as well as the European Union and Africa's engagement to devise strategies for mutual survival in the global market.
He said, sadly, there were still conflicts and tensions that did not make anybody happy, but the AU was sparing no effort to provide remedies.
The President commended government's main social partners, including organized labour and employers, for displaying good faith in their relations with government over the past seven years. He called on the National Labour Commission to be more up-and-coming in settling labour and industrial disputes using negotiation, mediation and arbitration as against confrontation.