8 January 2013

Liberia: President Sirleaf Returns Home After Attending Inauguration of New Ghanaian President

Accra — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and delegation are back in Monrovia after attending the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected President of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama in Accra on Monday, January 7.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf described the ceremony as "well planned and executed" and said she was very impressed with its execution.

The Liberian leader promised to work with President Mahama, as this is a continuation of the strong ties of friendship she had with his predecessors, President John Agyekum Kufuor and the late President John Evans Atta Mills, for the betterment of the two countries, the sub-region and Africa as a whole. "This," President Sirleaf said, is signified by my presence here in Accra to participate in this historic ceremony."

President Sirleaf was among ten Heads of State and Governments, mostly from West Africa, that graced the occasion. Others included the President Yayi Boni of Benin, also Chairman of the African Union (AU); President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria; President Jacob Zuma of South Africa; President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d'Ivoire; President Macky Sall of Senegal; President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea; President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger; President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of Togo; and President Mohamed Abdelaziz of the Sahrawi Republic.

Other foreign dignitaries included three Vice Presidents; one Prime Minister; the Honorable Speaker of the Pan African Parliament; and the Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group, among others from around the world.

On the local front, former Ghanaian Presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor were in attendance, along with their compatriot, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Independence Square (Black Star Square), the venue for the ceremony, was draped in the national colors of red, gold and green, as was the Independence Arch, telephone and electricity poles and even tree trunks lining the streets leading to the venue.

Ghanaians from all walks of life, adorned in national dresses and colors, as well as other residents, joined in this historic inaugural event. They began trekking into Black Star Square as early as 6 a.m., while millions more across the country and the world watched on television. Cultural troupes and the Army and Police bands entertained the audience as they patiently waited for the start of the program.

When President-elect Mahama emerged from the presidential limousine in an all-white flowing attire (agbada) for the ceremonies shortly after 10 a.m., the energized crowd welcomed him to the Square with rapturous applause while waving miniature Ghanaian flags. His Vice President, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, wore the traditional Ghanaian Kente.

Before Members of Parliament, foreign dignitaries and the cheering crowd, at 10:19 a.m. Vice President-elect Amissah-Arthur mounted the podium where he took and subscribed to the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of the Vice President administered by Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood.

Seven minutes later, it was President-elect Mahama's turn to take and subscribe to the Oath of Allegiance and the Presidential Oath administered by Chief Justice Wood.

Immediately after the two signed the Oath Book, the audience rose to the playing of the Ghanaian National Anthem and the 21-gun salute which reverberated around Independence Square as two Ghanaian fighter jets flew past and four helicopters hovered overhead to welcome into office Ghana's new Commander-in-Chief.

In his relatively short Inaugural Address, President Mahama promised that during his presidency, he would work hard to place Ghana on a development trajectory that would benefit all his compatriots irrespective of their geographical location, religious or ethnic affiliation. "I will work hard to place us on the right path, and I will lead us over the hurdles and past the obstacles that might threaten to keep us from meeting our goals. The promises that I have made are promises that I intend to keep," he pledged.

President Mahama, the fourth President of the Fourth Republic and the fourth person named John to become the President of Ghana since 1992, warned, however, that change does not happen overnight and sometimes, despite whatever progress that has been placed in motion, it will appear to be darkest before the dawn of a new day makes that progress visible. In such times, he called on Ghanaians to maintain the faith and the trust placed in him. "I will not let you down," he assured.

He said that although Ghana, in its 55 years of existence, had made tremendous gains, there was still much more to be done. More jobs must be created; more roads, bridges, schools and hospitals must be built; the need to invest in the agricultural sector; and already existing infrastructure must be expanded, strengthened and made better able to withstand the increased usage. All of these, he emphasized, are pivotal for the growth and development of the country.

President Mahama named his three immediate predecessors, Presidents Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor and the late John Evans Atta Mills, as playing their roles in advancing the country to its present level, and pledged to continue from where they left off, to make Ghana habitable and comfortable for investment and development.

To tackle development issues, President Mahama promised to invest in human resource, which he emphasized is vital for the country's enormous growth and development in the succeeding years. "These issues and concerns are all works in progress; they are realistic goals that have been set, and that are within our capabilities to be met, and in a timely fashion," he indicated.

He promised to ensure that Ghana is less polarized and weighted down by the pressures of political differences, saying: "I will work to ensure that Ghana is a place where citizens, regardless of their religious faith, ethnicity or political affiliation, will have the opportunities available to them to reach their full potential."

The new Ghanaian President assured the business community that his administration would provide a business-friendly atmosphere that would enhance their commercial activities, and added: "I want to assure the business community that I will be their ally. I will extend whatever support I am able to reinforce your contributions to our development."

Speaking on behalf of other visiting African leaders, the Chairman of the African Union and President of Benin, His Excellency Thomas Yayi Boni, commended Ghana's democratic high merits and the democratic credentials the nation has acquired over the years, and called on other African countries to emulate Ghana's example from that achievement. He called on Ghanaians to protect the democracy it had taken many years to nurture, by uniting for accelerated development and economic growth.

"The inauguration of President John Dramani Mahama should serve as the turning point for all Ghanaians to rally behind him for the needed growth and development of the country," the AU Chairman concluded.

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