Some Members of Ghana’s Parliament have not taken lightly the US Embassy’s decision to withdraw protocol visa allocations to government officials, including Members of Parliament and former Presidents visiting the US unofficially.
The MP for Tempane constituency and a Deputy Attorney General, Joseph Kpemka, has expressed fears this development could mar diplomatic relations between the Ghana and the US.
Explaining US Embassy’s new position to members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament on Thursday, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, indicated that for the applications of visas for travels on unofficial business, officials will be required to apply in person, even with former Presidents.
Before, such visa applications for unofficial business were done through a parliamentary protocol officer or the like.
In an interview with Citi News, he thus called on the US Embassy to reverse the move with immediate effect.
Mr. Kpemka said, “when I read it the first time, I thought it was a slip and I wished it was not true because in my candid opinion, we haven’t done anything to warrant such a situation… It will be unfortunate for people who are all entitled to diplomatic courtesies to be made to go through the same processes and procedures as other persons because that hasn’t happened before.”
He further suggested that “perhaps there are some underpinnings” that led to the move, without getting the specifics, adding that he could not fathom how former presidents “in attempting to go to the United States of America should apply through the same means and procedure as other people as former presidents. With the greatest respect, I find that unconscionable.”
Ultimately, the Deputy Attorney General said a reversal of the decision would be “in the supreme interest of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.”
The Member of Parliament for Suhum, Frederick Opare-Addo, was however more confrontational in his reaction to the US’ move, as he called for some retaliation from the Ghana government if the US goes ahead to implement its decision.
Speaking with Citi News’, Sixtus Dong Ullo, the former Deputy Communications Minister, was adamant former presidents could not be expected to go queue at the American embassy.
He expressed some hope that “state protocol will still be able to process those documents for them [former presidents] and obtain the visas for them if they are not on official visits.”
But if things do not go as expected, Mr. Opare-Addo said there would be the “need for Ghana to reciprocate; not just Ghana, but other countries as well. It is high time that we begin to treat other countries the same way they treat our officials.”
Meanwhile, the Minority Spokesperson on Constitutional, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, defended a decision by the United States Government’s move saying even if a former president was going on personal travels, he had to appear before the Embassy staff.
Unlike several others who have condemned the action of the US, the Tamale Central MP believes there’s nothing wrong with the decision.
“There is nothing wrong with this and it is not a slap in our face. If a former president is going on a personal matter and thinks that he will not want to use diplomatic channel to process his application, he would have to appear before them [US Embassy staff] and if it is strictly personal he would have to appear before them,” he said in an interview with Citi News’ Duke Mensah Opoku on Friday.
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(Via: CitiFM Online Ghana)