US, Ghana Twitter Row Depeens

Hannah Tetteh
It appears the diplomatic row between Ghana and the US is deepening following an ‘errant’ twitter message from the US Embassy in Accra challenging President John Mahama’s call on Ghanaians to sacrifice in the face of the dire economic hardships.

Hannah Tetteh, Foreign Affairs Minister, has unequivocally stated government’s dissatisfaction at the apology issued immediately after the twitter faux pas from the embassy and demanded public apology.

Last Friday, President Mahama wrote on his twitter account, @ JDMahama: ‘As a people, we have had to make sacrifices. I wish to assure you that the results of these sacrifices would begin to show very soon.’

But in a sharp cynical response, the US Embassy’s twitter handle[email protected] USEmbassy Ghana, countered: ‘@JDMahama and what sacrifices are you making? Don’t tell me that pay cut.’

A few hours after the controversial tweets, the US embassy issued another twitter message trying to explain the situation. ‘Our staff mixed a personal handle with the embassy’s. We apologized for the errant tweet,’ it stated.

The US embassy’s said apology on twitter went further to indicate that the embassy had also issued unqualified apology directly to President Mahama and Ghanaian citizens for the gaffe.

But on her twitter account on Friday, Hannah Tetteh expressed her doubt thus, ‘the tweet was public & associated with your twitter handle. It was not a private/personal account.’

Apparently, the Foreign Affairs Minister was responding to agitations by some key National Democratic Congress (NDC) activists and government officials,  who had asked the Foreign Minister to, as a matter of urgency, summon the US Ambassador, Gene A. Cretz, to the Flagstaff House to render unqualified apology to ‘the President and the people of Ghana.’

Among the angry activists were Ras Mubarak, acting National Coordinator of the National Youth Authority; Kwadwo Twum Boafo, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Free Zones Board and Dela Coffie, a member of the NDC communications team.

‘A tweeted apology for the snide remarks targeted directly at President John Dramani Mahama by the US Embassy is insufficient. I can only imagine the US response to a snide remark about President Obama’s faltering Obamacare by an ‘intern’ at the Russian Embassy in Washington,’ Sam Dzata George, a communications team member of the ruling party, posted on his Facebook on Sunday.

‘Apology or no apology, the Foreign Minister should as a matter of urgency, summon the US Ambassador and register her protest in the strongest terms over this clear attack and insult on our presidency.

‘It matters not whether it was the US embassy staff who mixed a personal twitter handle with the embassy’s own. This is a major diplomatic gaffe.

‘And if this were to be a serious democracy, the US Ambassador should by now be explaining why this attack on the presidency of a sovereign nation should not lead to her expulsion from the country.

‘We are not a serious nation. Are we?’, Dela Coffie writes on his Facebook wall.

Incidentally, the cynical response from the US embassy tweeter was referring to the much criticized decision by the John Dramani administration early this year that it was going to cut the salaries of the President down to ministers by 10% to exhibit the sacrifices that the executive had to take in a bid to douse the financial challenges facing the government in particular and the country in general.

The suggestion was widely derided by the public who referred the government to other huge unconventional sources of funds that government officials benefit from, aside their salaries.

By Raphael Ofori-Adeniran

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