Diasporian News of Monday, 18 June 2012
Source: Derek A. Koranteng
Ghanaian Citizens Abroad gathered outside the Embassy of Ghana in Washington, DC on June 16, 2012 to present two petitions to the Ambassador. The rally and subsequent march had a simple theme “Ghanaians abroad are tired of being treated as second class Citizens”. The event organized by concern citizens of Ghana drew crowd from across the US, from as far West as Seattle, Wa to Worcester Ma and everywhere in between.
An overwhelming number of Ghanaians in the diaspora want to help Ghana in some capacity. Most are met with intense frustrations by an institutionalized culture of bribery and trickery. To this Ghanaians Abroad are saying with one voice “Enough is Enough” and call upon the government to address matters faced by Citizens traveling to or doing business in Ghana. More specifically the issue of Customs Excise Duty as it relates to Port clearance and ROPA which allow Ghanaians in the diaspora to vote in elections.
The tone of the rally was nonpolitical, as Ghanaians seem to realize there are bigger issues beyond party affiliations. The rally which was broadcast over a few Internet Radio Stations (Highlife Radio,Sunlight ,Awaaba , Obimanso and a couple others) had speaker after speaker calling for solutions rather than bashing a political wing. With one voice they called for a National agenda to seek to foster the interest of Ghana.
Marchers held signs and sang solidarity songs as they march in protest. The event was rather very civil as protestors stayed on the March route, which allowed the District to deploy minimum police presence. As the protestors sang and paraded outside the Embassy in their ever colorful Red Gold Green colors they held signs. A few of the signs read “Enough is Enough Port Officials”; “Ghana is for Ghanaians”; “We want to Vote, EC”; “Where is my Car?”; “ROPA is our Right not a favor” and “We are tired of paying bribes at the Ports”. These signs summed up the bane of the protest in a rather succinct way.
The Ambassador Mr. Daniel Ohene Agyekum ceremoniously came out to accept signed petitions and addressed the gathering. Mr. Ohene Agyekum started by thanking the gathering for their time and effort and presenting the Government our petitions. He asked for the clarification in the documents presented him to make sure he has the correct understanding of the message. He then delivered a message on behalf of the government. In his response he said “the documents presented him will be delivered to the appropriate office as early as Monday June 18th. He will forward the response received by his Office to Ghanaians Abroad”. On the issue of ROPA he said “he was not in position to give a response since Electoral Commission is an independent body and makes their own decision outside of the government”. He will however forward the petitions as requested. Mr. Ohene Agyekum asks the gathering to call upon their families in Ghana to pursue a violence-free election. He took pictures with the protestors and proceeded back to the Embassy.