General News Wed, 10 Jan 2001

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'Shed mystery around the Castle' - President urges staff

President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday urged workers at the Osu Castle to make conscious efforts to shed the negative image of excessive use of power unjustifiably associated with the former colonial governor's residence. "We want to shed that image of the Castle as a place where all kinds of negative acts such as the cruel shaving of people and throwing them into cells unjustifiably were committed, " President Kufuor said when he interacted with top civil servants at the Castle.

After the colonial masters left, heads of successive Ghanaian governments either lived or worked there. Ft-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, the immediate past head of state, was no exception. "Let's shed that mystery and give it a 21st century image," he said adding that the new symbol of the Castle should have a true reflection of government of the people and by the people.

President Kufuor recalled the history of the Castle and its use during the colonial period as slave dungeons, saying it is important for change to be effected to enable it attract love and respect. He asked the workers to consider themselves as key players in his government and should therefore show commitment to duty towards its success.

"We want to work together so that in the end, we'll be able to formulate and implement policies to the satisfaction of the people whose mandate and taxes we're working with." He said even though he expects them to be loyal to him, they should do so with openness and not feel diminished. "You should be proud to be working with the new regime," he told the workers, most of them heads of department and their deputies. He added: "We haven't come as conquerors but as partners to work with you."

In an answer to a question, President Kufuor said his office will temporarily be located outside the Castle but "I wish to assure you that the Castle still remains the seat of government."

Vice President Aliu Mahama asked the workers to be punctual and dedicated to duty. They should also develop a closer working relationship with the public.

Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Chief of Staff asked them to feel free to make their differences known to him. He said a good working relationship is crucial to the attainment of government's policy objectives to meet the high expectations of the people.

Mr James Bebaako-Mensah, secretary to the former cabinet pledged the support and loyalty of his colleagues to the new government.

Source: GNA

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