Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Kufuor pay-off shocks Ghanaians

Ghana's outgoing President John Kufuor
John Kufuor stood down after serving two terms

Ghanaians have criticised plans to give former President John Kufuor a massive retirement package, including six chauffeur-driven cars and two houses.

The benefits, which also include a lump-sum thought to be worth $400,000, were approved on Mr Kufuor's last day in office earlier this month.

The new parliamentary majority leader said it was embarrassing that MPs had taken the decision behind closed doors.

But another MP said it would prevent leaders clinging on to power.

One of Mr Kufuor's allies told the BBC that the measures had not yet been signed into law and so the new administration was free to amend them if they so wished.


The BBC's David Amanor in the capital, Accra, says people respect their former presidents but see the proposed package as extravagant, if not excessive.

"We have a lot of problems in the country - water problems, light problems," one man told him.

Former President Jerry Rawlings
You're not going to entice me with that grandiose rubbish designed for Kufuor
Former President Jerry Rawlings

"Two cars with security is OK. But not five [sic] cars. The country will go bankrupt," he said.

The six cars can be replaced every four years and the former president can pick any two houses.

The package also includes a budget for entertaining, security and a foreign holiday each year.

Alban Bagbin, the leader of the parliamentary majority, told the BBC that he had not even known that a committee of MPs was meeting to discuss the measures, which had not been debated, bypassing normal parliamentary procedure.

Former President Jerry Rawlings could also benefit from the package but he told the BBC that he had told the committee to "get lost" when they approached him.

"I've lived with the little accorded to me all this time. I told them to get lost.

"You're not going to entice me with that grandiose rubbish designed for Kufuor."

Mr Rawlings founded the National Democratic Congress (NDC), whose candidate John Atta Mills narrowly defeated Nana Akufo-Addo from Mr Kufuor's New Patriotic Party after a run-off.

Mr Kufuor stood down after serving the maximum two terms.

At the weekend, the government said the outgoing administration had exceeded its budget sevenfold, leaving the country "broke", reports Reuters news agency.

The election was relatively peaceful despite the narrow margin of victory and was praised as setting an example for other African countries.

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