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Ghana Opposition Boycotts Kufour's State of Nation Address


Ghana President John Kufuor has delivered the state of the nation address to parliament, despite a boycott by National Democratic Congress party members. Efam Dovi reports for VOA from the capital, Accra, the main opposition party is protesting the jailing this week of an opposition parliament member for fraud and other charges.

Ruling party parliament members cheered President Kufuor on as he read the 19-page document, in which he appealed to the minority opposition members to resume their seats, to play their part in upholding the integrity of the legislature.

The National Democratic Congress, which is the biggest opposition party, declared an indefinite boycott of parliament proceedings Tuesday, accusing the ruling party of carrying out selective justice.

In his address, President Kufuor talked about the key challenges facing Ghana's economy and outlined measures being taken to resolve some of the challenges, including the country's energy crisis.

"In the interim, government has taken short to medium measures to put an end to the embarrassing and expensive load shedding of electricity, which society and industry have been subjected to over the past six months," he said. "These measures include the supply from the West Africa Power Pool arrangements, whereby within the next fortnight, Ghana will benefit from supplies from Nigeria and Cote D'Ivoire to the tune of 200 megawatts."

President Kufuor said within the past six years Ghana's economy has been transformed from years of stagnation to the present growth rate of 6.2 percent. But he says for the country to achieve its vision of attaining a middle income status within the next decade, the economy has to grow at eight-percent annually.

He says Ghanaians no longer feel the need to transfer their money abroad or change it into foreign currency to preserve its value, because the local currency has maintained its value against major currencies, while inflation has also reduced.

The Ghanaian president also talked about ongoing reforms to improve productivity and salaries and wages. He also said ongoing reforms in the education sector have improved school enrollment.

"Following the introduction of measures like the Capitation Grant, School Feeding Program, and School Bussing Program, great strides have been made in school enrollments," he said. "It is expected that by 2015 Ghana would have reached 100-percent enrollment."

On healthcare, he says access to quality health, reproductive and nutritional services would be improved.

The document will be discussed by parliament next week, whether the opposition members resume their seats or not.

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