New President rallies Ghanaians to unity in first major addressBy FRANCIS KOKUTSE in Accra | Friday, August 17 2012 at 14:36
Faced with the daunting task of fitting into the sizeable shoes of the late John Atta Mills, Ghana’s new President John Dramani Mahama has sought to strike a conciliatory tone as he aims to keep the country united with a high-stakes election only four months away.
President Mahama in his first major address to the nation Wednesday promised to preserve the west African country’s cherished tradition of stability.
Mr Mills died July 24 and was buried on August 10. President Mahama, his deputy, was sworn- in hours after his death to complete the unexpired term of his predecessor.
Political analysts have paid glowing tribute to President Mills for working hard to protect the unity of the country in the face of heightened political tension between political parties.
"I wish to preside over a country whose ethnically divergent people are its greatest source of strength; a country whose energies will be concentrated in extracting the most extraordinary aspects of our differences and transforming them into a source of growth and enterprise creation," Mr Mahama said.
"The best tribute we can pay the memory of our departed president would be to continue to keep the flame of peace burning. I hereby use this occasion to urge all political actors to use the unprecedented event of Professor Mills' passing, which so united our nation in grief, to effectively refocus Ghanaian politics and alter its tone forever," he said.
President Mahama said though he had always been proud to be a Ghanaian, over the course of the past three weeks when he watched the coming together of the country to mourn, to remember and to reconcile, "I felt that pride in a more profound way."
"There are some who believe that this feeling of goodwill we have towards one another will fade sooner rather than later; and that so, too, will the unity that it has produced. I don’t share that belief,” he said, adding that, "there is no reason why we cannot continue to stand united, and to move forward as one. There is no reason why our differences have to divide us or turn us into adversaries, especially not our political differences."
"When other nations descended into ethnic rivalries and warfare, we Ghanaians worked and laughed, ate and lived together without regard to ethnic background. When other nations allowed religious intolerance to turn to violence, we embraced our brothers and sisters of differing faiths, wishing them Good Friday and Happy Easter, or Ramadan Mubarak."
The new President said the reason Ghanaians have always been exemplary in their expression of peace and tolerance is because as a people they have always been aware that standing united is not the same as standing unanimously.
"We don’t all have to come from the same place or adhere to the same philosophy or to see situations from the same point of view in order to be of service to our country, or to work together to create progress,” President Mahama said.
"Differences of identity, differences of opinion and differences of political party or ideology must never overshadow the patriotism of the people as Ghanaians. Our differences of identity, differences of opinion and differences of political party or ideology must never overshadow our patriotism as Ghanaians."
"There have been times in the recent past when it seemed as though we had forgotten this simple yet powerful truth. But over the course of the past three weeks, we were reminded of it again and again."
"This remembrance of who we are as Ghanaians, of who we have always been, has ushered us into a new arena of hope and possibility. I consider it my responsibility as your President to ensure that our Government emphasizes, appreciates and protects our unity in diversity," said Mr Mahama.
He urged Ghanaians to take the opportunity provided by the unity that the country has enjoyed in the past few weeks to “build on the legacy that was created by Professor Mills, and the legacies that were created by the presidents who served before him, in order to move forward and claim our destiny. It is a destiny that springs forth from a foundation built on tolerance, fairness, compassion, humility, decency, strength and resilience."
"We have arrived at this point in history through our collective effort. Let us together tap all the rich and diverse talent and resources available to our nation to spur its accelerated development,” President Mahama said.
The Ghanaian leader said that thee was space in the political arena to compete for political leadership in an atmosphere of decency and dignity adding that "it is said, that ‘politics is a dirty game’ but, I daresay, it is us politicians who make it so.”
The country had made great strides as a country over the past two decades, he said, but he was however very much aware that there were places within the country where people lacked access to the productive economic, health and social infrastructure that will help them "make the most of their opportunities and create a decent life for themselves and their families."
The President urged every Ghanaian "to take ownership of this country of ours by limiting the voices of pessimism and negativity that seek to break us down as a society rather than build us up; the voices that try to sway us away from a conversation of constructive efforts and involvement and turn us toward a pattern of petty name-calling and baseless personal attacks."
- Why Obama is visiting Tanzania
- Kenya's President receives TJRC report
- The girl who met Gaddafi 'in hell'
- Kisumu, where some folks are eating well, while others are going hungry
- Kenyan call girls go high-tech
- Achebe’s body arrives home
- US 'committed to partnership with Kenya'
- Namibia finds oil for first time
- Eritrea's Afeworki: reviled and revered ex-rebel
Beyond the ballot