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General News of Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Source: Daily Guide/Ghanaian Times

Gaddafi Trip Called Off

According to the newspaper, DAILY GUIDE, the government might have a hand in the sudden postponement of the scheduled visit to Ghana of the Libyan Leader, Col Muammar Al-Gaddafi.

The Libyan Leader was supposed to cruise into Ghana this week with an expectant display of monarchical garb amid pomp and pageantry in Accra, following his invitation by Traditional Rulers in West Africa to open a maiden conference of Chiefs in the sub-region from July 23-24, where he was expected to have been crowned ‘King of Kings’.

However, information gathered by DAILY GUIDE from Osu Castle sources indicates that government had to make a last minute appeal to the organisers of the conference to postpone the event indefinitely to prevent Gaddafi from coming to Ghana on the heels of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country to bolster investor confidence in the Ghanaian economy.

Checks indicate that government initially accepted the Gaddafi gambit because of the promise of oil, but upon second thought, it made a U-turn.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that the conference was cancelled following a marathon meeting at the International Press Center, ahead of a scheduled press conference between the President of the National House of Chiefs, Professor Naa John Nabila, Samia Nkrumah, MP for Jomoro on one side supporting the conference and Kobby Acheampong, Deputy Minister for Tourism and other government representatives, to allegedly review the situation.

The cancellation of the conference is an immediate u-turn and a far cry from the announcement on the floor of Parliament last Friday by Minister for Chieftaincy and Culture, Alex Asum-Ahensah, that Government regarded the event as a laudable one “as it seeks to acknowledge the important role of our enduring traditional institutions”.

According to the information gathered, government was apprehensive about Gaddafi’s visit on assumption that it would dent the image of the country in the sight of the United States.

“This will not market Ghana as a tourism destination country and therefore government had to do something to prevent the Libyan Leader from coming to Ghana soon”, sources within government confirm to DAILY GUIDE.

The conference, which was supposed to be held on the theme: “The Role of Traditional Rulers in the Integration of Africa’s States”, would have brought together over 600 traditional rulers from all over the Sub-region to dialogue on how to consolidate the role of chiefs in democratic governance systems in the sub-region.

Ghana was chosen as a host of the conference to coincide with the Centenary of the birth of the first president and the foremost Pan-Africanist, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who was a pioneer in the establishment of the African Union.

“There is no doubt that, bringing our traditional rulers together will complement our respective Governments efforts at greater continental union,” Hon. Asum-Ahensah told parliament earlier.

The Minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for Jaman North, pointed out as key players in society, “chiefs cannot be left out in our effort to integrate” fully as a sub-region.

It will be recalled that at the just ended African Union Summit in Sirte, Libya, attended by Samia Nkrumah and Naa Nabila, AU adopted a resolution calling on all African States to commemorate the centenary celebration of the birth of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

The hosting of the Conference was therefore a prelude to the celebration of the Nkrumah’s 100th birthday as a true son of Africa.

Ghanaian Times Version

Qaddafi calls off visit to Ghana

A high profile international conference of chiefs, Kings, Sultans and mayors of cities in West Africa scheduled for Ghana expected to be attended by the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, was yesterday cancelled abruptly without clear reasons.

Although the National House of Chiefs says the cancellation was due to a "technical hitch," Times investigations gathered that it was cancelled because of a misunderstanding between the organisers and the government over the purpose of the conference.

The clearest hint of the cancellation of the event was given when a planned press briefing to announce the details of the conference was also called off after scores of journalists had gathered at the Ghana International Press Centre Monday morning.

Investigations by the Times indicated that the host, the National House of Chiefs, had to call off the conference because the main character of the event, Col. Gaddafi, who was expected to be crowned the "King of Kings of Africa", was no more attending the July 23-24 meeting in Kumasi.

A source at the Libyan Embassy in Accra said, Col. Gaddafi, Chairman of the African Union, halted the trip to the country because Ghana was not entirely happy about his mission in the country. The source, however, added that the meeting would now come off in September without giving further details.

There is a general misgiving in Africa about the "King of Kings" title that was to be bestowed on the Libyan leader by the conference expected to be attended by over 600 delegates from across West Africa under the theme, "The role of traditional leaders in the integration of African States."

Naa Professor John Nabila, President of the National House of Chiefs, confirmed to the Times on phone yesterday that the conference had been called off, and attributed the cancellation to a "technical hitch", but noted that it had nothing to do with the Libyan leader's inability to make the trip.

According to sources at the airport, an advance party from Libya that arrived in the country ahead of Co I. Gaddafi's arrival today, had a hectic time entering the country, as they were not carrying visas.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Information Minister told the Times that the government received information from the Libyan government that Col. Gaddafi could not make the trip because he was attending to some exigencies.

On whether the government was ready for him, he said, the Libyan leader was purposely coming for the conference.

In August, last year, a meeting of more than 200 African kings and traditional rulers in the Libyan town of Benghazi, bestowed the title "King of Kings" on the Libyan leader.

Col. Gaddafi hopes to use the African traditional leaders to push for a single African government with him as president; a move Africa's political leaders do not approve of.

At an Arab summit last March, Col. Gaddafi stormed out of the meeting after declaring himself the "King of Kings."

He seized the microphone to furiously denounce the Saudi King as a 'liar', saying he would not kowtow to anyone

"I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam (leader) of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level," he was quoted as saying.