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General News of Friday, 17 August 2007

Source: GNA

President Kufuor arrives in Gabon

.... From Congo
Libreville (Gabon), Aug. 16, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday arrived in the Gabonese Capital, Libreville, to a rousing welcome for an official engagement.

Accompanied by the Foreign Minister, Mr Akwasi Osei-Adjei and other senior Government officials, he was met on arrival by President Omar Bongo.

The two leaders, after exchanging pleasantries, mounted a saluting dais as the Gabonese Military Band struck the national anthems of Ghana and Gabon.

President Kufuor thereafter inspected a Guard of Honour. A big crowd that had lined up the route from the Libreville International Airport to the Presidential Palace, among them a sizeable number of Ghanaians resident in the country, cheered, sang and danced enthusiastically, as his convoy passed.

President Kufuor had earlier, together with some other African leaders from Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Central Africa Republic and Sao Tome joined the Government and people of Congo Republic to celebrate 47 years of nationhood.

The event, marked by a massive parade and spectacular fireworks display in the provincial town of Owando, 432 kilometres from Brazzaville, saw President Dennis Sassou Nguesso pledging to strengthen democracy in the oil-rich Central African nation with a population of about four million.

He said individual and collective rights would be respected and protected.

More than 10,000 soldiers and other security personnel, workers, civil society and youth groups turned out at the anniversary parade that lasted for over five hours.

President Nguesso, a French-trained paratrooper, called on the people to remain united and resolve never to allow conflicts to derail the march towards progress.

The future, he said, looked good and promising and vowed to vigorouly press ahead with the national reconstruction agenda and to ensure greater transparency.

Congo gained independence from France in 1960 with Fulbert Youlou as first President.

After a quarter century practice of one-party political system, which was abandoned in 1990, it installed a democratically elected Government in 1992.

The democratic process was however, jolted, by a four-month civil war in 1997 that toppled the Government of Professor Pascal Lissouba.

Elections in 2002 saw President Nguesso coming to power with nearly 90 per cent of votes cast. President Kufuor is expected to return to Accra on Friday, August 17.

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