Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ghana's lavish anniversary

Ghana is marking the 50th anniversary of liberation from Britain, the first black African nation to gain political independence.

Thousands of ordinary Ghanaians, as well as heads of state and other dignitaries have gathered Tuesday in Ghana's Independence Square in the capital, Accra, to celebrate the event.

Independent Ghana, like many sub-Saharan African countries, has had a checkered political history marked by a series of military coups, which ended in 1992. But the country is now seen as a model democracy in the region.

Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, gracing the occasion as the guest of honour said that Africa's biggest problem was sustaining political stability.

"We substituted military rule for colonially handed down democracy and socialism for capitalism without a productive capital base," he said.

He said what is required is a clear understanding of the best way for Africans to bring political development and economic growth to the continent.

Ghanaian authorities have spent $20m (£10.4m; 15.2m euros) on the commemorations, which are due to continue for the next 12 months.

Critics have questioned the wisdom of holding such lavish celebrations while many in the country remain without basic services.

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