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Obama Visit to Highlight Ghana Democracy

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Watch or listen to President Obama’s speech live from Ghana, Saturday, 11 July at 1230 UTC.

As Ghana prepares for Friday's arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama, President John Atta Mills says the visit highlights Ghana's democratic credentials. 

Members of the Ghanaian group Friends of Obama ride through the streets of the capital on the back of a truck, handing out t-shirts and encouraging people to come out and cheer the American president when he arrives late Friday.

"From the speeches that he was giving, we realized that there was something about this man. That was the 'Yes We Can' spirit," said Friends of Obama organizer Nancy Sam. "He has brought hope to the world.  And wherever there is peace, he is coming.  Because when you look at African countries, Ghana is one of the peaceful countries.  And this tells us that wherever there is peace, President Obama is going there.  And with that 'Yes We Can' attitude and speech that he has given, it has motivated us."

President Obama says he chose Ghana as his first stop in Sub-Saharan Africa because he wants to highlight stable countries that are governed well, where leadership is accountable to the people and institutions are stronger than any one person.

President John Atta Mills won election earlier this year in a hard-fought, closely-contested vote that saw the ruling party peacefully concede defeat.  President Mills says Ghana is a democratic example that President Obama wants to highlight for the rest of Africa.

"This is the second time in our history that one civilian government has handed over peacefully to another, and I believe that this is something that he wants to commend," President Mills said. "The second one also is our democratic credentials.  I believe that this is something that he admires.  And he wants to seize the opportunity to send out positive signals - especially to our brothers and sisters in Africa - that this is the way to go."

In an interview with VOA, President Mills says all Ghanaians can be proud that America's first black president chose their nation for his first stop in Sub-Saharan Africa.

"Who in Africa does not want an opportunity to meet President Obama?  I am sure there are people who are coming in from our neighboring countries, some I believe from as far as even South Africa.  Everyone wants to see him because he is a hero.  We regard his coming as a homecoming," the president said.

University student Idrissa Karim says President Obama's visit shows that Ghana is on the right path.

"Considering all the African nations, Barack Obama could not choose any other African nation but Ghana.  It tells us how democracy is prevailing, how rule of law is working in Ghana," Karim said.

President Obama meets with President Mills Friday evening before a Saturday breakfast where they will be joined by former Ghanaian leaders John Kufuor and Jerry Rawlings.  Mr. Obama is scheduled to give a speech at the international conference center before he and his family visit Cape Coast Castle, from where slaves were shipped across the Atlantic for nearly 300 years.  

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