Slovenia black mayor: I'm not Obama

2010-10-25 14:09
Piran - Slovenian media have hailed him as the "Obama of Piran", but Peter Bossman, the country's first-ever black mayor, insists his political ambitions are more modest.

"I have no ambitions at a state level," says the 54-year-old doctor from Ghana, who was elected mayor of the small seaside town of Piran at the weekend.

"I've already told my patients I'll be back in my practice. I could not quit my medical career."

The national media are beside themselves after Bossman, a Social Democrat, beat the town's incumbent mayor, the independent Tomaz Gantar, in a close-run election on Sunday, winning 51.4% of the vote against Gantar's 48.4%.

"The Obama of Piran has won," said the daily Vecer, while another, Delo, described him as "a Slovenian star", where an election in a tiny town of just 15 000 inhabitants would normally not make the national headlines at all.

In a telephone interview with AFP, Bossman said his election "shows the high level of democracy reigning in Slovenia".

Stayed in town for love

The son of a well-to-do family in Ghana - his father was also a doctor and politician - Bossman arrived in Ljubljana as medical student in 1977.

He originally wanted to return to Ghana after completing his studies, but he met and fell in love with his future wife, Karmen, a fellow student in the nearby town of Porec in Croatia.

The two decided to settle in Piran, one of Croatia's most beautiful seaside resorts, and have stayed there ever since, raising two daughters who are now both teenagers.

Bossman's political career dates back to his time in Ghana, where he was active within the pro-democracy movement that opposed the military regime in power following the 1966 coup.

He remained active when he came to Slovenia - then part of Yugoslavia - where he headed the African students' organisation.

Completely fluent - with an accent

Bossman learned to speak Slovenian and although he is now completely fluent, he still has an accent, a factor his rivals tried to use against him in the election campaign.

"I might never speak a 100% correct Slovenian, but I will work hard," Bossman told AFP.

In an interview in the Monday edition of Delo, he promised to seek additional lessons from one of his friends who was a teacher of Slovenian.

His skin colour is no problem, Bossman insists.

"After more than 20 years in Piran, people don't see me as a black doctor or a foreigner any more. They see me as a good doctor, a good man."

While he sees Piran as his home, Bossman still goes back to Ghana every few years to see his mother.

One of his election pledges is to improve the quality of life in Piran, Bossman says.

As a keen golfer, he has promised to open the way for the construction of a golf course in the area, despite protests from local environmentalists.

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