Ghana on Friday received full marks from the West African Sub-Regional body, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), for ensuring peaceful, fair and transparent polls on December 7.
Leaders attending the 35th ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS, in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, hailed the conduct of the elections as "highly commendable and deserving emulation."
Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua said Ghana has shown that democracy was taking firm root in the sub-region, once plagued by military interventions.
He noted that democratic consolidation backed by aggressive push towards the elimination of corruption were the surest means to bring improvement to the lives of the peoples in West Africa.
Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission, said he was confident that Ghana's December 28 Presidential run-off, was going to be credible, free and fair.
President John Agyekum Kufuor, who twice served as Chairman of the ECOWAS, in 2003 and 2004, joined his colleague leaders at the summit to bid them farewell.
He is ending his two four-year term of office as President of Ghana, on January 7, 2009.
Key issues on the agenda of the summit included the election of a new Chairman of the Authority and the discussion of ways to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in dealing with illicit drug trafficking that was fast becoming a major threat to democracy and security in countries in the sub-region.
Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, President of the ECOWAS Commission, told President Kufuor that "As you leave office, we do not forget the services you rendered to Africa as Chairman of the AU, and to our region as Chairman of ECOWAS for two years."
He said in both capacities, President Kufuor worked tirelessly to bring peace to conflict-torn countries, for the Union Government of Africa and to push forward the ECOWAS integration process.
Dr Chambas said President Kufuor should "hold his head high" for his stewardship of the affairs of Ghana in the last eight years, staying the course of political and economic reforms that has helped Ghana to emerge as a model in many respects on the African continent.
The recent Presidential and Parliamentary elections, conducted in a peaceful and competitive atmosphere was a further testimony to President Kufuor's democratic credentials, he said.
Dr Chambas observed that the continued stability and turn around of the socio-economic fortunes of countries in the sub-region depended on the consolidation of peace, democracy, respect for rule of law and due process, which were gradually taking hold in the region.
President Kufuor thanked his colleagues for the moral support they gave to Ghana to conduct successful elections on December 7 and said he hoped they would continue to stand with the country during the presidential run-off.
He drew attention to the current unacceptable high levels of small arms and light weapons circulating in the region, the drug menace and human trafficking, which he said, had conspired to pose major security threat to the region and called for firm action.
President Kufuor said he was optimistic about the future of the sub-region, saying from whatever angle one looked at it, the region was moving forward while effectively responding to challenges of change coming from within and outside.