Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obama given official welcome

US President Barack Obama was on Saturday morning officially welcomed to Ghana at a brief ceremony at the Castle, Osu. The US President and President John Evans Atta Mills arrived at the Castle in the "Beast", the official vehicle of the US President, at about 0910.The two presidents mounted the dais and took the national anthems of the two countries as a 21-gun salute boomed in the background. The US President inspected a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of troops from the Ghana Armed Forces. The two leaders are due to begin bilateral talks that will hinge on economic cooperation and good governance. Shortly after the bilateral talks the US President will be guest at breakfast with some 300 people at the Castle, move to the La Hospital, address Parliament where he will lay bare his Africa policy stressing good governance and democracy and then fly to Cape Coast to visit the Cape Coast Castle.The US President arrived in Accra on Friday night to a warm proverbial Ghanaian "Akwaaba" to begin his momentous two-day visit, his first to a sub-Saharan African nation since assuming office. The US Presidential jet, Air Force One, which is making its third call to the Kotoka International Airport, after President Bill Clinton (1998) and President George W. Bush (2008), touched down around 2105 hours.Moments later, President Obama accompanied by his wife Michelle, their two daughters, Malia and Sasha, and a 50-member delegation, came out of the aircraft to euphoric cheers. There were moving scenes at the airport as President John Evans Atta Mills, resplendent in a smock and his wife Naadu, in a wax kaba cloth, approached the gangway to receive the US first family. Nadei Okaikoi, eight-and-half years old class three pupil of ALSYDS Academy, presented a bouquet to President Obama.The US president and his wife and children, full of smiles, were introduced to the welcoming party which included politicians from across the political divide, including Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the losing presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Election 2008. The festive atmosphere was enhanced by a dancing troupe from the National Dance Company whose Coordinator, Mr George Lamptey, said they were performing heraldic dances meant to welcome the august visitor and his family and make them feel at home. President Obama savoured the moment by taking a few steps to the "frontonfron" beat and encouraged his wife, who was then walking with Mrs Mills, to join in dancing to the beat.

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