Mills praises achievements in election year
Dakar - Ghana's president John Atta Mills on Thursday boasted about economic and social progress achieved under his rule, an apparent signal that he would seek a second term in a presidential election scheduled this year.
Mills, who spoke during his fourth State of the Nation address, said that Ghana, which has been dubbed Africa's "Golden Child" by international analysts, had the fastest growing economy in Africa in 2011, with growth of 14%.
"We won't slow the pace of development. We have to hold in check those who want to hold this country to ransom," Mills said. "If we are not circumspect, the peace of the country will be jeopadised."
Referring to the presidential election scheduled for December, he said: "I'm committed to a violence free election."
His speech was interrupted by protesters dressed in black, who said they were mourning the fact that the economic boom had not benefited Ghana's poorest.
The World Bank says that some 28.5 per cent of Ghana's 25-million population lives below the poverty line.
Mills, who took office in 2009, spoke of the success of Ghana's nascent oil industry, which he said netted the country 444 million dollars in 2011.
Schools under trees
He said there have been improvements in the education system, with a reduction of informal "schools under trees" and the ongoing construction of 1 700 centres of learning.
He added that three million school uniforms were distributed to poorer families around the country in 2011.
Ghana recently made its first forays into cocoa production, taking on neighbour Ivory Coast, which is the biggest producer in Africa.
Last year the West African nation produced more than one million tons of cocoa, much of which was exported to Europe, Mills said.
Opposition lawmaker George Gyan Baffour questioned the achievements presented by Mills.
"He should just be honest with the people," Baffour told local media.