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Ghana President Previews President Obama's Visit in VOA Interview

Says Ghanians consider US president 'a hero'

Washington, D.C., July 8, 2009 - Ghanaian President John Atta Mills, preparing to welcome President Obama, said today in an exclusive, live Voice of America (VOA) interview that he is committed to promoting democracy and economic development in his country.

"My vision is a kind of Ghana … where the political leader will use the resources of the country for the benefit of the people," Atta Mills told VOA's Shaka Ssali, the host of Straight Talk Africa (, a weekly show aired on television, radio and Internet.

Referring to Obama, Atta Mills said the U.S. president's first official visit to an African country will be like a "homecoming. … Everybody wants to see him (Obama) because he is a hero."

Atta Mills said he assumed Obama selected Ghana for his initial foray to Africa in part because the country has held free and fair elections that have led to peaceful transitions of government.

Obama is scheduled to be in Accra, Ghana's capital, July 10-11. The two presidents are expected to discuss development, governance, and civil society in events that will be covered by VOA.

In the hour-long VOA interview held at Osu Castle, Atta Mills conceded that democracy has not taken hold in many countries on the continent. "Nobody said Africa is totally democratic," he said. "We are aspiring to democracy."

But the president said if countries adhere to the rule of law and promote good economic practices, democracy will take hold.

Turning to the country's economy, Atta Mills said Ghana has "great potential," even though he said unemployment remains too high, and "not everything is perfect in our country." Atta Mills, 64, was elected president in 2008. He previously served as vice president, 1997-2001.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

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