Former National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for the Lower Manya Krobo Constituency, Michael Teye Nyaunu, has described as disrespectful, the US government’s decision to withdraw protocol visa services for former Ghanaian Presidents who intend travelling to the United States for unofficial visits.
The US Ambassador, Robert P. Jackson, on Thursday told Ghanaian Parliamentarians that the US had withdrawn protocol visa allocation to top Ghanaian government officials including Members of Parliament and former Presidents on non-official visits.
[contextly_sidebar id=”uvWTGnYY71WcspW1VYjrPJZWRYsE9FVY”]But the former MP said the government must oppose what he describes as blatant disrespect shown by the US authorities to former Ghanaian Presidents.
“I think that a former president should be given protocol at all times and anytime they want to go to the US. What are they going to do? What illegality are they going to perpetuate?”
“I could remember one time when we were traveling with one of our speakers and they went and searched him like he was carrying cocaine; we protested. Why do they have to treat former presidents like that? It doesn’t show respect to us at all, and I think that they should reconsider that position.”
He said government might soon send a formal complaint to the White House over the issue since it does not auger well for Ghana.
“I think government is going to write a formal complaint through their Embassy to the White House and tell them that it doesn’t show much respect to us and considering our relations with America, it doesn’t auger well for us. I agree that some people abuse the privileges, but not the former presidents, none of them have done such before,” he added.
Why the visa ban
Explaining his outfit’s position to members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament after an earlier letter informing Parliament about the decision, Mr Jackson said: “As for the protocol, normally if you are applying for official travel there is no personal appearance required so there is no reason for your parliamentary protocol officer to come to the Embassy whatever.”
“The normal channel will be for him to pass the visas and passport to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and their protocol people will be permitted to come to the Embassy, and we will do everything we can to process those visas within 48 hours of receipt. If you are travelling for tourism or business that is not related to government business, you will be required to make a personal appearance even with former Presidents. There are no exceptions.”
This directive follows a similar position taken by the UK High Commission on the issuance of visas for personal visits after some four Members of Parliament were alleged to have engaged in visa fraud.
The United States Embassy in Ghana has since released a statement explaining that the notification on visa allocations to government officials, including MPs and former Presidents visiting the US unofficially is in accordance with already existing US law.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana