USA Threatens Visa Ban to Ghana Robert P. Jackson, US Ambassador to Ghana (left), Jon Benjamin, UK High Commissioner To Ghana(right)
The United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) have issued statements strongly condemning the upsurge of political violence in Ghana as the country heads for general election on December 7.
They have consequently threatened to refuse the issuance of visas to Ghanaians who would want to travel to any of these countries.
In recent times, there have been clashes in various parts of the country, particularly between the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP); the latest being the attack on the residence of the NPP presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, by reported NDC supporters.
The two powerful countries have swiftly reacted to the violent clashes, cautioning the political actors to be mindful of their utterances and warned them against inciting violence.
A statement from the US Embassy in Accra stated, “The United States condemns all political violence in Ghana, especially any violent acts directed at political candidates, their homes or families. While campaigns can be vigorous and sometimes contentious, violence has no place in the electoral process.”
The statement said the US government was considering all options to hold responsible those who incite political violence, including denying or revoking of visas.
“In the period leading up to and following Ghana’s elections on December 7, we call on all actors to remain peaceful and respect the democratic process. We encourage all parties to make it clear to their constituents that any violence or attempts to use intimidation to disrupt the democratic process is unacceptable.”
“The United States applauds Ghana’s tradition of peaceful, democratic elections. The international community is working with the Electoral Commission, National and Regional Peace Councils, NGOs, civil society organizations, the media, the police and others to support Ghana’s efforts to hold credible and non-violent presidential elections. We urge all to participate peacefully in the democratic process—before, during and after Election Day,” the US statement admonished.
It said the US government “does not support a particular candidate or a particular party. We support democracy. We will continue to work with the freely elected government of Ghana, just as we always have.”
The British High Commission also released its statement in Accra expressing its government’s concern “at recent incidents of political violence in Ghana in the run-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections on 7 December.”
“We condemn all violent acts by the supporters of any political party, including any occurring as a result of holding electoral campaign events close to the private homes of rival candidates.”
The statement indicated, “The UK is a great supporter of Ghana’s democracy and of maintaining its electoral record. We admire the open and energetic nature of its campaigns. We believe that violence has absolutely no place in the electoral process.”
“We therefore, call on all Ghana’s political actors to promote peace, and to respect Ghana’s electoral and constitutional processes. All political parties should strongly urge their supporters to refrain from, and indeed actively condemn any violence, incitement or intimidation which only serves to undermine democracy.”
Like the US, the UK also said it “reserves the right to take action against anyone engaging in or inciting political violence, including considering refusing or revoking visas.”
According to the statement, “The UK will continue to work with Ghanaian institutions, including the Electoral Commission, Police, Judiciary, National Peace Council, civil society groups and the media to support Ghana’s efforts to hold credible, peaceful and fair elections. The UK remains entirely neutral in those elections.”
By William Yaw Owusu