The United States Embassy in Accra is petrified by the reaction of Ghanaians to the circular it issued to its citizens to be cautious of their movements in Ghana ahead of the politically charged August 29 date.
August 29 is the date set by the Ghanaian Supreme Court to deliver its final verdict on the landmark presidential election petition filed by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) after the 2012 polls.
Jane Clark, an information officer at the US Embassy told DAILY GUIDE in a telephone interview that the US Embassy was concerned about the backlash.
‘That is why we have done a lot of media engagement.’
There have been a sense of general fear following the directives, with people fearing that the US may be privy to some intelligence, hence the warning to its citizens.
The reactions have been mixed; while some persons have been indifferent, others have lashed out at the US for causing fear and panic.
Consequently, since Monday information officers of the Embassy have been all over the media, explaining that the directive was just a routine travel advice to its citizens.
‘We don’t want this to be taken overboard,’ she declared.
According to Jane Clark, she is surprised that a similar directive issued in December did not generate as much furore as the current one.
Ghanaian officials have also been talking about the directive; the Minister of Interior, Kwasi Ahwoi was on Monday quoted as saying that the directive was not suggesting that the US government anticipates violence erupting after the Supreme Court delivers its verdict.
It is believed that the intense confusion caused by the circular could have forced Ghanaian government authorities to rush to the US Embassy for further clarification.
Jane Clark would not confirm this because she says she has not been authorized to talk about it.
On Monday, the embassy issued a statement that read: ‘U.S. Embassy Ghana advises U.S. citizens of a potential increase in political tensions and the possibility of isolated violence associated with the anticipated August 29 announcement of the Ghanaian Supreme Court’s decision on the legal challenge to Ghana’s election results.’
‘U.S. citizens in Ghana are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security/safety awareness during this politically-sensitive period. U.S. citizens in Ghana should avoid the offices of political parties, Ghana’s Supreme Court, the buildings of other institutions associated with the elections and all political rallies,’ the travel alert stated.
‘We recommend that U.S. citizens in Ghana monitor the local news and avoid all demonstrations, as even those intended to be peaceful may suddenly turn violent,’ it warned.
On August 29, the Ghanaian Supreme Court would finally put to rest the legal wrangling on the 2012 elections that has dragged on for over eight months.
The court’s impending judgment has sent the political temperature in the country through the roof.
The court would finally settle the case which has questioned the legitimacy of incumbent President John Dramani Mahama.
The verdict would expectedly have far-reaching impact on both the ruling government and the largest opposition party, which is convinced it won the elections at the December polls.
The country is teetering on an uncertain threshold, as the Supreme Court verdict could either easily ignite the already charged atmosphere or defuse the political tension that has been increasing since the December polls.
In order to assure Ghanaians, several security agencies have expressed their preparedness to quell any eventual unrest by publicly displaying their weapons and man-power.
Additionally, there have been several other peace initiatives popping up to defuse tension in the country.
But the US, which would not take any chances, has advised its citizens to undergo strict orientation before travelling to Ghana.
‘If you are going to live in or travel to Ghana please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.’
By Raphael Ofori-Adeniran
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