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    Ghana's President Suggests Extending Term for Future Leaders

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    Ghana's outgoing president, John Kufuor,who steps down on Wednesday, says future heads of state should have their terms extended to five years in office instead of the current four.  

    In his final state of the nation address, President Kufuor said parliament should consider extending the term of Ghana's president to five years to give that person what he calls "reasonable room" for a newly elected leader to settle into the job.

    "For the president of a struggling, developing nation with weak institutions, perhaps in the case of Ghana a five-year term, renewable once, will create the needed space for making a better impact," said Mr. Kufuor.

    President Kufuor said that is especially so for a popular incumbent who may lack experience at the time of taking office.

    President Kufuor finishes his two, four-year terms Wednesday when he hands over power to President-elect John Atta-Mills.  In his third run at the presidency, Mr. Atta-Mills withstood two rounds of voting and a special election in a single constituency Friday to defeat ruling-party rival Nana Akufo-Addo by fewer than 41,000 votes out of more than nine million ballots cast.

    President Kufuor commended the work of Ghana's Electoral Commission during the hard-fought, much-delayed vote, but also suggested that parliament consider setting terms for its members.  He said it is risky to have a referee who enjoys permanent security.

    "The commission is without term limits.  I therefore recommend for the consideration of this house and the nation a system which will retain the absolute independence of the commission, but also provides all its members with specific, timed tenures," he added.

    President Kufuor said that would sustain public trust in the Electoral Commission while making it accountable to the people.  Chairman Kwado Afair-Gyan has held the post since the commission was established 15 years ago.

    Kufuor's National Patriotic Party has complained about opposition intimidation during the just-concluded vote.  Chairman Gyan says the electoral commission investigated alleged fraud by both the opposition and the ruling party, but did not find sufficient evidence to invalidate the overall result.

    While ruling-party candidate Akufo-Addo has conceded to Mr. Atta-Mills, he says party lawyers will go to court to pursue complaints about irregularities in the Volta district.   

     

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