Foreign Minister Defends Divisive Ayisi Boateng

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Akufo-Addo Still Tightlipped

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey, is busily defending Ghana’s High Commissioner to South Africa, George Ayisi-Boateng, saying he has been a “father for all” since his appointment.

This runs contrary to the envoy’s statement that his topmost priority is to seek the welfare of members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) since in his view, they are “more Ghanaian than other Ghanaians”.

Despite several calls from foreign relations experts, ex-Ambassadors and others, President Nana Akufo-Addo, a onetime Foreign Affairs Minister, meanwhile continuous to remain tightlipped over the divisive claims of his envoy who he sworn into office recently tasking him and others to be of help to all Ghanaians.

Many have said the President’s position on the matter confirms his attitude that he does not punish wrongdoing especially so when you’d been of some good to him in the past.

Mr. Ayisi-Boateng has widely being condemned for those comments by the Minority in Parliament, clergy, civil society organisations and a section of Ghanaians, with many calling for his resignation or dismissal.

After defending his comment, Mr Ayisi-Boateng on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, retracted and apologised.

Reacting to this development in a radio interview on Accra based Class FM yesterday,, Mrs Ayorkor Botchwey, noted that despite Mr Ayisi-Boateng’s statement, in practice, he has not discriminated against any Ghanaian since his appointment.

Mrs. Ayorkor Botchwey, told show host, Moro Awudu, that: “Anybody who is posted as an envoy is there for all Ghanaians and to ensure that their welfare is paramount irrespective of whether the person is NPP or NDC, and they are all aware of that.

“[Hearing that statement] wasn’t a good feeling …We all err as human beings, he made a mistake, he’s come back to retract and apologise and I think that is in the right direction and the important thing is that it doesn’t happen again, because I know that in practice, I’ve been following the activities of our Ambassadors and High Commissioners and I know in practice that, that is not what he’s been doing in Pretoria since he got there few months ago. He’s been a father for all so I don’t even know why he said that. He has not exhibited such behaviour; on the contrary he has embraced everybody.”

 The Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, has described as insincere and half-hearted an apology rendered by the under-fire diplomat George Ayisi Boateng.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, insists the apology by the Ghanaian High Commissioner is not enough for him to keep his position.

A press statement issued in Accra and signed by Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa described George Ayisi Boateng’s apology as a “reluctant and insincere public apology”.

It said “the Minority in Parliament has had the opportunity at a meeting which ended a while ago to consider the content of an obviously reluctant and insincere public apology rendered by the beleaguered Ghana High Commissioner to South Africa, H.E George Ayisi Boateng.

The Minority further considered the full circumstances surrounding the apology as follows:

“That H.E. Ayisi Boateng initially treated with contempt our demand of him to retract and apologize for his unconscionable, bigoted and unconstitutional remarks”.

“That H.E Ayisi Boateng even in the face of overwhelming condemnation and revulsion from many decent minded Ghanaians still chose to adopt a more belligerent, reckless and divisive posture as demonstrated by his reported retort in which he dared the Minority to go to the Supreme Court if we so please.

“That H.E Ayisi Boateng rather than express remorse for flagrantly violating Articles 17 and 35 (3) of the Constitution of Ghana and the requirements of the Oath of Office he swore, unfortunately chose to embark on a pathetic attempt to equalize with non-existing parallels including a wicked effort to denigrate the good name of former president John Evans Atta Mills of blessed memory, mobilizing misguided NPP youth groups and some ill-advised party leaders to defend his shameful utterances”.

“That we have confirmed that the said public apology would not have been rendered by the disgraced envoy if he had not been forced by his superiors at the Flagstaff House and the Foreign Ministry coming 72 hours after intense public pressure on Government to act”.

That Ghanaians living in South Africa have expressed their displeasure and sense of insecurity under this embattled High Commissioner demanding that he is not retained.

That the conduct of H.E. Ayisi Boateng over the last 96 hours have shown him to be unfit and lacking the temperament of a diplomat to occupy the high office of High Commissioner.

“Therefore, based on all of the above, the Minority is compelled to maintain its stance that H.E. George Ayisi Boateng should resign failing which he should respectfully be recalled by H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo with immediate effect” it said.

Mr. Boateng made the headlines for all the wrong reasons when he suggested that he was only going to put the interest of members of the New Patriotic Party above all other Ghanaians.

He told members of the Tertiary Students’ Confederacy Network (TESCON) “This government is doing its best to create job opportunities and me for instance, I told my people over there [that] it is because of NPP that I’m here so the NPP man is my priority. I told them when NDC was in power it was Kwesi Ahwoi who was there, now we are in power, so Ayisi-Boateng is here with you. My topmost priority is the problems of an NPP person before any other Ghanaian, take it or leave it” he said.

“Indeed I’m not boasting but I’ve started meeting the NPP groups. Every weekend I meet some group members and I tell you if I had my way, every job opportunity that will come will go to a TESCON member before any other person. And I know my colleague appointees also have the same feeling except that because of IMF we cannot do anything now…”

His comments angered lots of people including the Christian Council, pressure group OccupyGhana, and the Minority in Parliament.

After a lot of pressure, the High Commissioner issued a statement retracting and apologizing for his comment.

“I have upon sober reflection, decided to retract the comments I made during my interaction with some members of the New Patriotic Party, NPP in the Ashanti Region over the weekend.

I have realized that my statement is unfortunate and at variance with the letter and spirit of the Ghanaian constitution and the dignified office of the High Commission that I occupy,” the statement said.

“I regret the effect of my speech delivered to the young party members which has generated public outcry.

I therefore wish to retract my comments and render an unqualified apology to the presidency and all Ghanaians,” he added.

But his apology does not appear to have appeased Ghanaians. Samuel Okudzeto did not understand why the diplomat would virtually have to be forced to apologise for such a remark.

“…It doesn’t appear to be an apology which came from a High Commissioner who voluntarily realized that he had done something he should never have contemplated. There can be no Ghanaian better than another Ghanaian,” he said.

He added the Minority will meet and take a decision on the matter.

An international relations expert and political analyst Dr Yao Geber said government officials must be guided by national interest in all their activities.

He did not understand how a High Commissioner could make such a comment.

“The moment you are appointed a High Commissioner your personal interest becomes secondary. The core and vital interest becomes the national interest,” he stated.

He was also not satisfied with the apology by the High Commissioner.

 

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