Ghana: Criticism of UK High Commissioner for ‘undiplomatic’ tweet reported in Ghana

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – A tweet by the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Ghana Jon Benjamin and appeals by outgoing president John Dramami Mahama to Ghanaians to support the incoming administration were some of the stories highlighted by the media in Ghana this week.

The British High Commissioner has been very active on the social media in Ghana, commenting on virtually everything. But his latest tweet in which he sought to ridicule President Mahama’s inauguration of some of the many projects his government carried out by comparing the onset of the harmattan to another inauguration appears to have gone too far.

And the High Commissioner has been criticised for that tweet, not least by the state-owned Graphic newspaper.

“Is London listening to Jon Benjamin?” was the headline of the Editorial in the Graphic, which said it had been forced  to reluctantly delve into matters of diplomacy because of the manner it had seen the UK High Commissioner react to some local issues.

“Our worry lies in the fact that the UK High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Jon Benjamin, seems to have a comment about everything that goes on in his station – Ghana.

“As if that is not enough the High Commissioner’s statements sometimes make mockery of the high office of the land, the Presidency, or the people who have warmly accepted him into their midst."

The Graphic said Mr Benjamin’s recent tweet on the harmattan: “Oh, that nasty air outside all of a sudden. Did someone inaugurate the Harmattan already?” was seen as a remark in bad taste, looking at the vitriolic attacks from a section of Ghanaians who read the tweet.

“Some people see that tweet, which has since been deleted, as a show of disrespect to the President, but Mr Benjamin has stated that he has a huge admiration and respect for President John Mahama.”

The Graphic said some Ghanaians on Twitter opine that Mr Benjamin's tweet was an attempt at making fun of President Mahama's inauguration of projects across the country ahead of the elections, which was mocked by some Ghanaians while others were of the view that Mr Benjamin deliberately attacked the President by asking if the harmattan had been inaugurated.

The Graphic said some of Mr Benjamin’s statements did not augur well for international relations and diplomacy and called on the British government to have a word with their representative.

It also asked the Ghana Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration "not to look on unconcerned before it was too late" to resolve any impasse between the British High Commissioner and the Ghanaian public.

“Support incoming government — Prez Mahama,” was the headline of the Graphic on a call by President Mahama asking for support for president-elect Nana Akufo-Addo.

The story said the President has urged Ghanaians to support the incoming government to succeed in its development programmes and projects, adding that this would benefit all Ghanaians, irrespective of their ethnic or political affiliations.

Speaking during a courtesy call on him by a delegation from the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) in Accra, he said as a committed Christian, he believed that the voice of God was the voice of the people.

The Bishops had called on him to commend him for demonstrating statesmanship by calling Nana Akufo-Addo to concede defeat in the 7 December general election.

“God speaks to us through the people and I have accepted and respected the verdict of the people. l am at peace with myself and I think that Ghana our nation is bigger than any personality. Leaders will come and go, but our nation will continue to survive.

“I, therefore, ask all of us to give our utmost support to the new government in order that it succeeds, because its success will bring prosperity to all Ghanaians, notwithstanding our ethnic or political affiliations,” the President said.

President Mahama said the elections had further consolidated Ghana’s reputation as a stable democracy, adding: “I dare say that Ghana will continue to be respected for what we have carried out so successfully in this country.”

“Pres urges all to support new government,” was the headline of the state-owned Ghanaian Times which quoted President Mahama as saying it was time for Ghanaians to rally together and offer the new administration "our utmost support".

"I inherited a peaceful and stable country and I am happy that I am handing over a very peaceful and stable nation to my successor."

On the transition, he said the process was "going on smoothly". He added that although a few constitutional questions had emerged about the powers of a president waiting to hand over, he believed that convention and legality would help address those concerns.

The Bishops also called on Nana Akufo-Addo, who asked Ghanaians to express gratitude to President Mahama for his show of maturity in defeat during the general election, and the ensuing transition process.

He said President Mahama demonstrated that he was a true democrat who had the development of his nation at heart, when he committed to a smooth transition of power by conceding following his defeat, the Accra-based Citifm radio station reported..

Nana Akufo-Addo said that Ghana would not be enjoying the current peace and stability if President Mahama had refused to concede defeat.

“I think all of us in Ghana have to be thankful that we have in him a man who is also devoted to the peace and stability of our country. He has comported himself in a manner to ensure a smooth transition.

“We believe that the manner in which he is going about it, is reassuring to our peace especially when you see what is going on in other parts of our continent and we have to be thankful for that,” the President-elect said.
-0- PANA MA/AR 31Dec2016

31 december 2016 09:34:33

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