General News of Thursday, 6 February 2003
Source: The Evening News
(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) -- The President, John Kufuor, has assured Ghanaians living abroad that the government is working hard to ensure that they fully participate in the 2004 presidential and parliamentary elections.
He noted, however, that the process was a very delicate one which could easily be abused due to the large number of Ghanaians living abroad and said the government was being very cautious of it.
Addressing the Ghanaian community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after attending the first extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU), the President said the government was thinking of introducing citizens identification card in order to avoid the abuse of the system.
But, in contrast to the position of the President, the Electoral Commission (EC) has indicated that the current electoral regulation allowed only Ghanaians abroad wording in the missions and United Nations agencies and their spouses to vote.
Thomas Okine, Director of Public Relations of the EC, who spoke to The Evening News on the subject said this did not include the multitude of Ghanaians abroad. He however, said that with the coming into force of the Dual Citizenship Act, the EC was considering whether Ghaniaans abroad could vote and that at the appropriate time, the commission would come out with its decision on the subject.
But Okine was not categorical as to whether this would be done befoe the 2004 elections. On the need to create more employment in the country, the President said the government was working hard to do so and urged those in the diaspora to assist in that area.
He said it was surprising that Ghanaians with such great knowledge in various fields should leave their own country, adding that it was time they came back home to assist in the socio-economic development of the nation.
The President admitted that it had not been easily in the past two years that the government had been in office. He noted that the time was short whiles the expectations of the people were very high and said the government was, however, working hard to satisfy the people.
President Kufuor said every Ghanaian living abroad was an ambassador of the country and urged the people not to relent in their efforts at selling the country abroad.
On his part, Hackman Owusu Agyemang, Foreign Minister, said evertything done in Ghana was in the supreme interest of the people of Ghana. He said the government was committed to ensuring that Ghana was intenationally recognised apart from the good governance being vigorously pursued.
Owusu Agyemang commended the Ghanaian community in Ethiopia for behaving themselves very well for which Ghana was proud of them.
Frederick Alipui, President of the Ghanaian Community in Ethiopia, said they have recognised the efforts of the government to attract foreign direct investment into the country. He noted that a sovereign debt idea was a concept that every government should pursue and said the government of Ghana should float bonds to enable Ghanaians abroad to acquire shares in some companies.
Ghana’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, John Aggrey, said the Embassy had been pursuing vigoroursly the foreign policy agenda of the government. He said his outfit had provided information to business which wanted to do business in Ghana.