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General News Mon, 1 Jan 2001

Rawlings hails successor

The Ghanaian president, Jerry Rawlings, wished his newly elected successor, the opposition leader John Kufuor, well yesterday, a week before he steps down after two decades in power.

At a ceremony marking the anniversary of his 1981 coup, Mr Rawlings pledged to do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition. "Let me seize this opportunity to congratulate Mr Kufuor on his election," he said in an address broadcast to the nation.

"I wish him well and hope he and his colleagues will be able to deliver their promises."

Mr Kufuor's victory in the December 28 presidential run-off over the vice-president, John Atta Mills, marks the first real transfer of power through the ballot box in the west African country. A two-term limit on presidents prevented Mr Rawlings contesting the election himself.

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Ghana's history since independence in 1957 - political instability, army rule, bloody purges, socialist central planning, democracy and free mar ket reforms - has mirrored the experience of many other African countries.

The election, following a peaceful transfer of power through the ballot box in fellow west African state Senegal last March, brought good news to the continent at the end of a turbulent year in many places.

Mr Rawlings first seized power in 1979 as a junior army officer. He handed back power to an elected president later that year but launched a second coup in 1981 when his successor appeared unable to stem resurgent corruption.

Source: Guardian
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