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General News Mon, 15 Jan 2001

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Togo Honors Kufuor

President John Agyekum Kufuor, fresh from his victory at the polls and coronation, at the weekend paid a 10-hour eventful official visit to Lome to attend the anniversary celebrations marking President Gnassingbe Eyadema’s coming to power 34 years ago.

The visit was largely seen in Togo as a continuation of the process of rapprochement began by his predecessor, Flt. Lt. John Rawlings, four years ago.

The celebrations, in which the Ghana Armed Forces Central Band participated, saw one of the most awful displays of sophisticated air and ground military arsenal for the country of barely a population of four million people.

After a most spectacular march past in which enthusiastic civilian and cultural groups vied for a pride of place with members of the armed forces, President Gnassingbe Eyadema retired into closed door working session with his Ghanaian guest who was accompanied by an entourage of ministers-elect, after a 21-gun salute at the Lome Airport.

Mr Kufuor’s delegation included Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, Minister designate for Foreign Affairs, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Chief of Staff, Elizabeth Ohene, Advisor on Public and Media-related Affairs, B. A Mensah and Asuma Banda, businessmen.

Both Heads of State received thunderous cheers from both excited and curious Togolese as they rode into and out of the parade grounds in an open limousine.

Later, President Eyadema decorated the new Ghanaian Head of State with Togo’s Highest State Honour, the Great Cross of Mono.

Later an overwhelmed President Kufuor told the press that he had decided to make Togo his first official port of call barely six days after he had been sworn into office to show his gratitude to the Togolese people and President Gnassingbe Eyadema for the wonderful expression of support and solidarity during his swearing-in ceremony in Accra.

“I am barely one week into the presidency of Ghana and it is only right that the sister state of Togo should be the first nation to host me,” President Kufour said.

President Kufour expressed profound gratitude to the Togolese Head of State for having found time to attend his inaugural ceremony in Accra at such a short notice adding “I could not believe it.”

He said after his election he had barely one week to prepare for his inauguration.

President Kufuor said as a result of this, the temptation was too strong for him to refuse when the Togolese Head of State kindly extended an invitation to him to attend the celebration marking his taking over power in Togo.

He described the honour conferred on him by Togo as the first ever “I have got in my life and I am proud that it is coming from Togo, a sister country to Ghana.”

On ECOWAS, President Kufour declared: “The ECOWAS Treaty talked about the free movement of people and goods; unfortunately, it has not been so yet. In my time as the President of Ghana. I am hoping that Ghana and Togo will come to realise that we are one.”

With regards to the past incidence of cross border attacks organised by some Togolese dissident groups against the Togo government, President Kufuor responded in an answer to a question by the Associated Press that “in any time, definitely from my side, nothing will be permitted to stand between the sister countries.”

On Cote d’Ivoire, President Kufuor expressed regrets that the country which was a model for stability and development appears to have been trapped into another complex political drama.

The Ghanaian Head of State described the situation as “unfortunate and appealed to the main political leaders of that country to sink their personal ambitions for the larger interest of their nation.

He attributed the present crisis to personal ambition of the country’s political leaders and called on them to cast a retrospect glance at the achievements of the late President Houpouet Boigny who he described as the founding father of La Cote d’Ivoire. He was also asked these leaders to adopt self-sacrifice and restrain themselves and their followers from destroying the country.

Mr Kufuor also appealed for the establishment of a fair competitive culture in Cote d’Ivoire so that together the leaders can help to rebuild the nation.

Source: From Ebow Godwin, Lome

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