Ghana: American Embassy Eats Humble Pie

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By Ohenenana Teleku

Ghana President John Dramani Mahama has a penchant for using social media as part of his tools for governance.

In typical fashion on July 17, President Mahama, used social media to communicate the need for Ghanaians to make sacrifices in these challenging times, as there was light at the end of the tunnel.

He had tweeted on his site @JD Mahama, “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.”

Shortly after, a response came from the US Embassy’s official handle, questioning, “And what sacrifices are you making? Don’t tell me that pay cut.”?

In January 2014 or thereabouts President Mahama had announced a 10% cut off his salary and those of his appointees as an example of the sacrifices members of the Executive were making towards efforts at overcoming the economic challenges facing the country.

The tweet from the US Embassy elicited fierce responses and condemnation from some state officials, including Foreign Minister Hannah Tetteh, who felt the Embassy was unduly interfering in the politics of Ghana and showing disrespect to the President.

One official, on Facebook, for instance, called on the Foreign Minister to summon the US Ambassador to explain the undiplomatic comment.

As the controversy raged on social media with accusations and counter-accusations, the Embassy came up with an apology and went ahead to explain the circumstances surrounding the whole development.

It shifted blame onto one of its officials for the blunder, not the embassy or the US government, tweeting: “The earlier errant tweet was a private message mistakenly sent out on our account. The views expressed in no way reflect the views of the United States Government or the US Embassy.”

The Embassy further promised to ensure that “all of our employees fully understand their responsibility toward carefully managing our public outreach through social media”.

“We have apologised to the President and we offer an apology to the Ghanaian people. Our staff mixed a personal handle with that of the embassy’s,” it concluded.

Not satisfied with the explanation, Ms Tetteh hit back with, “The tweet was public and associated with your twitter handle. It was not a private/personal account.”

She was apparently not satisfied with the explanation by the US Embassy.

It is believed that a high-ranking Ghanaian employee of the American embassy, consumed either by his anger at the economic difficulties Ghanaians were currently enduring or by his opposition politics, momentarily lost concentration and let out his personal frustration with the Mahama Administration through the US Embassy official twitter handle.

He most probably has earned himself an official reprimand for his embarrassing lapse.

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