The United States Embassy in Ghana ruffled feathers of a cross-section of Ghanaians when its ambassador announced that top government officials and even former presidents were to attend visa interviews in person if they were travelling for unofficial purposes.
The Embassy has however clarified its position on the issue saying that visa application interviews for ‘personal travel’ was not a new policy. The statement said the Embassy extended appropriate courtesies if former Presidents were appearing for interviews.
‘‘In such limited and special circumstances as having a former president come in, we have procedures established to ensure the appropriate courtesies are extended.
In such limited and special circumstances as having a former president come in, we have procedures established to ensure the appropriate courtesies are extended.
‘‘When a diplomat or official applies for a visa for personal travel, it is neither necessary nor appropriate for the applicant to be accompanied to the interview by protocol assistants. As a general policy, only visa applicants are allowed in the waiting room.
‘‘Our communication to the Government of Ghana was meant to clarify this policy. We will continue to work with the government to facilitate legitimate personal and official travel. ,’‘ the statement stressed.Ambassador’s disclosure to Parliamentary Committee
Local media portals reported that the US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, recently disclosed that diplomatic courtesies for former presidents who wish to travel to the States on private matters had been revoked.
Whiles addressing the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee last Thursday (June 22), the ambassador stated that application for visas for unofficial travels will require the physical presence of applicants, even with former presidents.
Beyond the former presidents, the new directive was also to affect government officials and Members of Parliament (MPs) who previously had their visa applications processed through protocol officers.
The move has split views among MPs, a larger number of them have expressed disappointment at US Embassy calling that Ghana should also reciprocate same for American officials.
Ghana’s three former presidents – All Johns
Ghana currently has three former presidents, all of who incidentally bear the name ‘John’. Jerry John Rawlings founder of the main opposition National democratic Congress (NDC) ruled Ghana for 21 years. He served as military ruler for 13 years before transitioning into a democratic leader in 1992.
He won the first democratic polls under the current 1992 constitution and served two four year terms between 1992 – 2000. He handed over to John Agyekum Kufuor of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) he also served between 2000 and 2008.
The immediate past leader, John Dramani Mahama, was Vice-president of John Evans Mills, who died whiles in office. Mahama served his remaining tenure before winning his first term in 2012. He, however, lost the December 2016 polls to incumbent Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.