Opinions Wed, 25 Jun 2003

Open Letter To President Bush

His Excellency George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Re: On President Bush's African Trip- An Appeal

Dear President Bush:

It was with shock and dismay that I read the news regarding the list of countries you've chosen to visit during your Africa trip, beginning on July 7, 2003.
One country that deserves to be on the list, but which was excluded is Ghana. As you may know, Sir; Ghana fits into US policy goals, and your declared policy of rewarding nations that have embarked on democracy and good governance in Africa. Ghana epitomizes stability, good governance, and accountability in Africa.
Ghana is also the Chairman of the regional bloc called Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). As Chairman of ECOWAS, the president of Ghana, Mr. John A. Kufour has led in efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability in the sub-region. To this end, he initiated and hosted peace conferences attended by warring factions in the Ivory Coast. These initiatives resulted in the cessation of war in that country.
President Kufour is also currently involved in negotiations for peace among Liberian warlords with a view to bringing to an end the unnecessary factional wars being waged in that country. President Kufour recently hosted a peace conference involving leaders of the various Liberian factions, and the president of Liberia Charles Taylor, in the Ghanaian resort town of Akosombo. Thus, president Kufour is promoting peace in the region; which happens to be another hallmark of your Africa policy. As you well understand, instability in the region potentially renders the area a fertile ground for the nurturing of terrorists, a matter that you have spoken against.
At the start of your administration, Sierra Leone presented a clear and present danger to the interests of the United States. According to The Washington Post, some members of Al Qaeda, the perpetrators of the unspeakable acts of violence against the USA in September, 2001, settled in Sierra Leone, and used wealth gained from the rich diamond resources of Sierra Leone to finance terror against the USA and the world.
Sir, Ghana played a crucial role in bringing to an end the war in Sierra Leone, thereby helping to bring peace and stability to Sierra Leone. The president and the people of Sierra Leone are hugely indebted to Ghana for helping to inaugurate an era of peace and good governance in their country.
Mr. President, in June 2001, you invited the presidents of Senegal, Mali, and Ghana, to the White House. You stated at the time that the meeting "affirms the high regard in which United States holds these strong African democracies. Our relationship is based on shared democratic values".
For its part, The Washington Post in an editorial on that occasion, singled out president Kufour as being an example of a new leader who is committed to peace and good governance not only in Ghana, but in the sub-region, and indeed Africa as a whole. The Washington Post further called on you, and Congress to assist African leaders such as president Kufour, because as the paper editorialized, their success, would be a shining example that would encourage other leaders less-inclined to promoting good governance in their countries to follow the example of leaders such as president Kufour.
When you hosted these democratic-minded African leaders in June 2001, you promised to offer a democracy or good-governance-dividend for countries such as Ghana that have embarked on sound economic policies; countries that promoted a free enterprise investment regime; and above all, promoted peace and stability in Africa. Ghana does all of the above, and then some. It is no wonder then that Ghana is a peaceful island in an ocean of instability. Your visit will help to strengthen our resolve and commitment to the 'shared values' that you spoke about in June 2001.
Of course, the events of 9-11, 2001, side-tracked your African policy; and shifted policy to fighting terrorism. That was/is understandable because a strong and peaceful USA is a benefit to the world. As a result of 9-11, the dividend that you promised, never materialized.
In essence, Osama bin Laden, stole Africa's Christmas!!
Now that you have shifted focus, and decided to fulfil your oft-postponed visit to Africa due to the focus on the fight against terrorism, it is only fitting and rewarding that you include Ghana as one of the countries you visit. Ghana continues to make important strides on her own; and while it ought not take a US presidential visit to Ghana in order for us to receive at least a fraction of the American largesse that countries like Israel and Egypt have been accustomed to receiving, your visit and assistance will provide affirmation that we are indeed two countries with 'shared democratic values"!!!
Not only will your visit serve to underscore your policy of recognizing countries like Ghana that promote good governance and peace; a visit to Ghana will also bring to focus the stated US goal of promoting peace and stability in the West Africa sub-region in particular, and Africa as whole. Other countries in the sub-region who look to Ghana for leadership and governing inspiration, will be strengthened by a US presidential visit to Ghana.
Mr president, when you visit a country like Ghana that has no oil resources; nor qualifies as a haven for potential terrorists (two issues that engage your administration's attention), the benefits of good governance will be underscored. There is therefore, a strong moral persuasion, and policy significance by including Ghana on the list of countries to be visited by you.
Ghana has had a long and fruitful diplomatic relations with the United States. Indeed, Ghana was the first country to host the US Peace Corps. Ghana has supported and continue to support sound US policies in the international arena. Thus, for symbolic reasons as well, a visit by you to Ghana will strengthen the good relations that has existed between the first sub-Saharan African country to be independent from colonial rule; and the US-- a country that led the way in ridding herself of the colonial yoke.
When president Clinton visited Ghana, he said that he had never been welcomed by such huge throng of people. In her book "Living History", Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton estimates the number that welcomed them in Accra at about half a million good people. The largest crowd ever to welcome a US president, anytime, anywhere! This reception was not accorded to president Clinton, per se; it was rather a reflection of the deep admiration and love that Ghanaians have for the government and people of the United Sates. Ghanaians are hospitable to a fault. I can assure you that a great welcome awaits you, should you include Ghana on your trip.
So, Mr. President, for incontrovertible policy factors; and other reasons pertaining to American interests and policy goals, I kindly urge you to include the good country of Ghana on your visit; and also include Ghana as a recipient of your good governance-dividend grant.
I wish you a successful and peaceful trip to Africa, and to the countries you've selected so far; Senegal, Botswana, Uganda, South Africa and Nigeria. However, the leaders of these countries themselves, will agree with me that on solely sound policy factors, you ought to include Ghana on the list.
I urge you to appeal to President Bush to include Ghana on his African trip for the reasons stated above. Thank you.
Kofi Ellison, PhD
Silver Spring, MD;
e-mail: sikadwa@justice.com

The Honorable Colin Powell, Secretary of State
The Honorable Walter K. Kansteiner III, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Senator Richard G. Lugar, Chairman, Senate Committee of Foreign Affairs
Senator Russell Feingold, Ranking Member, Senate Committee of Foreign Affairs
Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman, Subcommittee on African Affairs
Congressman William J. Jefferson; Chair, Congressional Black Caucus
Congressman Albert Wynn, Maryland's 4th Congressional District
Congressman Donald M. Payne, Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa

Columnist: Ellison, Kofi