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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Wahala Over Obama


President Barack Obama and President J.E.A. MillsThe much-touted US President Barack Obama’s visit to Ghana has left a looming international relations crisis in its wake, with a Togolese private newspaper warning of a possible return to cold, hurtful diplomatic relations between Togo and Ghana.

This follows an alleged secret meeting between Togolese opposition leader, Gilchrist Olympio and President Barack Obama, purportedly arranged by the Ghanaian authorities in Accra.

In the July 16th 2009 issue of Forum de la Semaine, a weekly-turned-daily, the paper referred to media reports which alluded to the exceptional protocol preferences offered to the Togolese opposition leader by the Ghana government during the recent visit of Obama to Ghana.

According to the paper, the Togolese opposition leader was virtually given a red carpet treatment in Accra and invited to the Ghanaian Parliament where the American President gave an address.
The newspaper reported: “Some indiscretions revealed that the Togo opposition leader was accorded the privilege of engaging Barack Obama in a few minutes’ tete-a-tete, albeit briefly, during the visit to Accra.

“In this case, the negotiator or brain behind this meeting between the Togo opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio and Barack Obama cannot be any other person than President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana.”

The paper went on: “And in the scheme of things, the leader of the Togolese opposition Union of Forces for Change party, Gilchrist Olympio, took undue advantage of the opportunity to submit a memorandum to US President Barack Obama about the Togolese socio-political situation.

“This memorandum was obviously a request for the indictment of the regime in Lome,” noted the newspaper.

And all this was done when negotiations for a high-powered Togo government delegation to be allowed to meet President Obama in Accra was turned down by Ghana, the paper alleged. Viewed against the background that a semblance of a reconciliatory process was organized between Accra and Lome recently, the Togolese government saw the development as unfortunate and an act of betrayal.

Forum de la Semaine recalled that only a few months ago, President Atta Mills of Ghana paid a furtive visit to Togo, lasting only 2 hours in Lome. Quite significantly, both Presidents John Atta Mills and Faure Gnassingbe had fruitful exchanges. The same thing happened between the delegations of the two countries. “That was enough to satisfy and reassure the praise singers and court criers of President Faure Gnassingbe’s commitment to a fruitful relations with Ghana,” the newspaper went on.

“But the presence of Gilchrist Olympio in the Ghanaian capital during the visit of President Barack Obama has now nullified rising hopes for rapprochement.”

Forum de la Semaine went on to say that “if indeed the reconciliation between Lome and Accra had been consummated, then one can conclude that today, the regime of President John Evans Atta Mills has stated its position about how to relate with the regime in Lome.

“With this red carpet rolled out to Gilchrist Olympio, the Ghanaian leader, John Atta Mills has visibly chosen to pitch his camp with the Togolese opposition leader and by extension his support for a return to alternative change of government in Togo”.

Readers would recall that US President Barack Obama on July 10, 2009 visited Ghana on his maiden trip to Sub-Saharan Africa, making the West African country the envy of many neighbours.

From Ebow Godwin, Lome

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