Ghana leader spurns Christmas gifts
President's hard line on corruption leads him to turn away seasonal presents.
Last Modified: 24 Dec 2009 12:55 GMT
Mills took office in January on a promise of
stamping out corruption [AFP]

Ghana's president has refused to accept Christmas gifts from individuals and businesses in a move aimed at highlighting his attempts to stamp out corruption.

John Atta Mills will this year not accept Christmas hampers, the giving of which has become a common practice in Ghana, it was announced on Thursday.

"He has made it clear that it was not his disposition to accept Christmas hampers and other gifts," Mahama Ayariga, a presidential spokesman, said.

He said that Mills was concerned "that you never know what is in the mind of the giver of the gift, so it's always better not to accept them".

Some disappointed gift-givers had instead handed the gifts to presidential staff, Ayariga said.

War on corruption

Mills took office in January, pledging a "relentless war" against corruption.

However, his present-snubbing has not been appreciated by everyone.

James Agbagana, a traditional chief, warned that the president was going too far and that he could ruin the Ghanaian tradition of hospitality.

Vitus Azeem, the head of Ghana Integrity Initiative, the local chapter of Transparency International, said the president's actions would do little to stem corruption among fellow government officials.

"His campaign would have been more meaningful if he had given out specific directives to his ministers and other top officials to also turn away the hampers and the goats driven to their homes and offices," said Azeem.

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