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President Obama  to Address Ghanaian Parliament Saturday

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  • Hon. Alban Bagbin, Parliament Majority Leader Spoke With Clottey

  • Hon. Osei Kyei Mensa-Bonsu, Parliament Minority Leader Spoke With Clottey

United States President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet Ghana's President John Atta-Mills when he arrives Friday in the capital, Accra. 

Ghanaian officials said that as the first black U.S. President, Obama would be given a traditional hero's welcome or as they say in Ghana, "Akwaaba".

President Obama is also scheduled to address Ghana's parliament at the international conference center on Saturday. Ghana is the first sub-Saharan country to be visited by Mr. Obama. In May, he delivered a major address to the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt.

Honorable Alban Bagbin is the majority leader in parliament. He told VOA that Ghana's democratic credentials could have played a pivotal role in President Obama's decision to address parliament.

"We are expecting him to give us a statement that would give us the path to deepen and widen the frontiers of our democracy. We also expect that he will, in the statement, give us an idea as to the commitment of the United States of America towards supporting us in developing our democratic culture and structures," Bagbin said.

He said there is need for Washington to offer fiscal backing to strengthen Ghana's democracy and economy.

"We are expecting that President Barack Obama will also leave a legacy of some financial support to enable us not just deepen our democratic practice, but to extend and share our achievement with the rest of the African continent," he said.

Bagbin hoped the rest of Africa would embrace and solidify the tenets of democracy.

"We know Ghana is the shining star and a symbol of democracy in Africa. And we expect that the democratic achievements of Ghana would be meaningless unless it is linked up with the total democratic liberation of the African continent," Bagbin said.

He said President Obama's decision to address parliament could be interpreted as a symbol of Ghana's growing democracy.

"We are aware that he (President Obama) expressed his desire, in fact, insisted that he was going to deliver his speech on the floor of parliament and nowhere else. And we are proud that we have been part of that leadership in trying to entrench democratic practice in the country," Bagbin said.

Meanwhile, Honorable Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, minority leader in Ghana's parliament said President Obama's visit is essential to strengthen Ghana's democracy.

"The fact that he is coming to Ghana, the first country of his visit in [sub-Saharan] Africa about six months after his own [inauguration], is most significant. And that should urge us on to strive to attain higher levels in democratic governance," Mensah-Bonsu said.

Meanwhile, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to tour the Cape Coast Castle, which was used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.               

Some political analysts say Ghana was the obvious choice for Mr. Obama to visit due to its burgeoning democracy as well as its promising economic growth.

Ghana began a strong diplomatic relations with Washington soon after gaining independence from Britain in 1957.

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