Gov’t to engage US Embassy over Ex-Prez, MPs privileges withdrawal

U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, HE Robert Jackson, Fri, Jun 23, 2017

by Abubakar Ibrahim

Government says it will do all it can to reverse a decision by the United States Embassy, to withdraw some privileges extended to former Presidents in the country.

Deputy Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said the Foreign Affairs Ministry is yet to engage the Embassy for further details since the Ambassador did not make the pronouncement during a meeting with the Ministry but rather, at a meeting with Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Even in getting the further details, the Ministry is minded that courtesies extended to former presidents are restored," he told Kojo Yankson, host of the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Friday, June 23, 2017.

The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, told Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday that henceforth, former Presidents and Members of Parliament (MP) are expected to join the queue like any other ordinary Ghanaian, when applying for US visas for their private visits.

The Committee had summoned Mr Jackson to respond to some queries surrounding the recent deportation of some Ghanaians under inhumane circumstances as well as the poor reception given to visa applicants at the Embassy in Accra.

He was emphatic that apart from the official travels for ex-Presidents and MPs, which go through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in all other applications the applicants must personally present them.

The Ambassador said the official applications are processed within 48 hours but “travelling on business or tourism which is not related to government business, you need to make a personal appearance; even former Presidents have to come themselves.”

This announcement has met a lot of public backlash with most Ghanaians saying it smacks of disrespect since former U.S. Presidents and Congressmen will expect courtesies extended to them when travelling to Ghana.

But Mr Oppong Nkrumah has called for calm assuring that, government will get to the bottom of the issue.

He said depending on how the Embassy responds when it is engaged, there are options that the country will be forced to look at.

Contributing to the discussion, the Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu said is intriguing that the US government is taking such a decision as a check on the abuse of protocol privileges which has continued over the years up till now.

“I believe government through its Foreign Ministry will be addressing this with the US government at the level of a discussion. Whatever the outcome, I believe that government needs to appeal against the decision," he said.

"Again, it depends on the strength of Ghana in terms of reciprocal gestures. What happens to former American heads of states and congressmen visiting Ghana? Do they want to be treated with respect and privileges? Then the same respect, courtesies and privileges should be extended to Ghanaians,” he added.

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