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General News of Saturday, 11 July 2009

Source: GNA

Dignitaries savour Obama's speech

Accra, July 11, GNA - President Barack Obama made his long-awaited historic Africa policy speech to an enthusiastic crowd that defied the long queue, hours of waiting and elaborate security checks. The people came from far and near and not even the long queue, hours of waiting and elaborate security checks could daunt the spirits of Chiefs, Parliamentarians, and Priests not to partake in the historic occasion.

When President Mills and Obama finally made their entrance to the packed Accra International Conference Centre, which had been transformed into Parliament House for the occasion, echoes of "Yes, we can," a campaign slogan used by Obama, greeted them. Although, this was the third successive visit by a sitting President of the United States to Ghana after President Bill Clinton (1988) and George W Bush (2008), this was seen by all as different because "a son of the continent was reconciling with his roots".

Besides, no visiting American President had ever addressed the Ghanaian Parliament.

Members of Parliament, most of whom were clad in the traditional Kente, joined in the euphoria with chants of the "Yes, we can" slogan. When the Winneba Methodist Church youth choir rendered the national anthems of the two countries, the stage was set for the commencement of proceedings.

There was deep silence as President Obama outlined his vision for the continent hinged on four areas of democracy, development, public health and conflict management.

The speech was laced with promises of opportunities and admonishing that Ghana and other African countries could succeed by tapping into opportunities that existed around them.

"This is the defining moment of Africa and America relationship. It is the blue print that can propel the continent out of its difficulty," Mohamed Ibn Chambas, President of the Economic Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)said in reaction to the speech.

President Obama's speech touched on agriculture and conflict saying, "I believe we need to go to the basics by producing what we need and avoiding costly conflict to grow our countries."

"I like the positive signals that the speech is sending out to the rest of Africa. We can succeed through our won efforts and not dependence on aids and handouts from others," Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, a former Minister of State told the GNA.

To Dr Abu Sakara, Vice Presidential Candidate for the CPP in the 2008 elections, democracy was cardinal for any future development that the country needed to engage in and it was important to value human dignity.

"The message marks a very good beginning and my expectation was exceeded and I hope the leadership of the countries in Africa would adhere to cardinal principles espoused in the address," Samia Nkrumah, daughter of the first President of Ghana, told the GNA.

Togbe Afede Agogbomefia of Asogli Traditional Area said the speech offered food for thought and gave hope and reason that the destiny of developing countries was in their own hands. Mr Olakunle Abimbola, a Nigerian said )the visit and the speech marked a great day for Africa." 11 July 09

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