Sat, Jan 27, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Kofi Annan returns to Ghana, vows to become a farmer

AP , ACCRA

After 10 years as UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan has returned home to Ghana to cheering crowds and murmurs that he might run for president. But Annan told leaders in his homeland that he has a different focus in mind: farming.

Speaking at a meeting with Ghanaian President John Kufuor and opposition leaders on Wednesday, Annan said he was "serious about going into agriculture."

The former UN chief expressed disappointment that Africa was unable to feed itself.

"There used to be starvation in India and China but that is not the case now. I would in the next phase of my life like to work with international actors and African leaders to take agriculture to a new level," Annan said.

"It is my commitment that we find a solution to the problems of agriculture on the continent."

Former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings, a longtime supporter of Annan, said he hoped Annan would take some role in the country's politics.

"Now that you're home, I would like you to observe our political scene and offer your advice," Rawlings told Annan at a meeting at his house late on Wednesday. "I expect that you will use your expertise and knowledge to straighten the course of peace and stability."

James Gbeho, a retired Ghanaian diplomat who was the country's longest-serving UN envoy, said he didn't expect Annan to take much of a role in local affairs.

"There cannot be any specific local role for Kofi that I can see now," Gbeho said. "He is a global statesman, who will be needed worldwide."

Annan was welcomed home on Tuesday night by crowds of hundreds that cheered him and his wife as they stepped off a plane. Troupes of dancers and drummers performed patriotic songs.

Led by President Kufuor, Annan shook hands with a long line of ministers, chiefs and diplomats that had lined up waiting for his arrival. The chiefs decorated Annan with a white band of cloth, a traditional way of signifying success.

Ghanaians have floated Annan's name as a possible presidential candidate for years, and many in the capital said they'd welcome the country's most public international figure entering politics in Ghana.

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