Ghana’s seat of government moves back to Flagstaff House

February 8, 2013


Ghana government moves back to Flagstaff House

By Francis Kokutse | IANS

ACCRA- Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama will Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 officially move the seat of the government of the West African nation from the old colonial slave post Osu Castle to the Flagstaff House built with India’s help. Minister for Information and Media Relations Mahama Ayariga confirmed that the government would conduct “formal” business from the House starting Feb 7. The move comes after four years of dithering over what to do with the building currently being used by the ministry of foreign affairs.

The ministry will relocate to a new building being built with help from China. “Staff of the ministry of foreign affairs are to relocate from the administration block so that we can make a complete move to the Flagstaff House in 2013,” the president had said in December. However, the new palace has gone through several controversies.

First, then president John Atta Mills decided not to use it after its completion, citing security reasons. This was in line with his election campaign promise that he would not live in the building because the money spent on it could have been used on other things to benefit the poor.

However, John Kufuor, under whose presidency the construction was initiated, praised the Indian government for providing the funds.

There was also concern about its cost. Originally estimated at $36.9 million, the cost shot up to $135 million with the provision of additional facilities to enhance security. The amount was part of a $60 million funding from the Indian government that has a 50-percent grant element at an interest rate of 1.75 percent, repayable in 25 years, including a five-year moratorium.

The building’s original name was changed from Jubilee House to Flagstaff House. Shapoorji Pallonji of India was named as contractor of the project, which started in 2006.

It was completed in 2008. India and Ghana established diplomatic relations in 1953 with the opening of a representative office in Accra, prior to Ghana’s independence. India established full-fledged diplomatic relations with Ghana in 1957 immediately after it became independent. There are about 7,000-8,000 Indians in Ghana. Some of them have been here for over 70 years.

Video: Seat of Government moved to Flag Staff House (Jubilee House)


Flagstaff House (Jubilee House)

Accra Ghana Flagstaff House

Golden Jubilee House

Flagstaff House (formerly the Golden Jubilee House) is a presidential palace in Accra which previously served as a residence and office to the President of Ghana. The NDC government sworn into office on January 7, 2009 has refused to utilize the Flagstaff House preferring Osu Castle as the seat of government. The current seat of the government of Ghana is the Osu Castle. The name Flagstaff House was given to the original building on the state by the British Colonial government.

President John Kufuor (in office 2001–2009) argued that his government should not use Osu Castle due to its previous association with slavery. In the 1550s the Europeans arrived with the Portuguese occupying the site of what is now Osu Castle. Sweden later took control over the area. Denmark first built a European fort here in the 1660s to trade gold, ivory and then to enslave Africans. In 1850 the British bought Denmark’s possessions in what was then called the Gold Coast.  In 1957, when Ghana became independent, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, the fort became Government House, the residence of the Governor-General. When Ghana became a republic in 1960, it became the residence of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah.

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