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22.11.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL - Ghana: a Nation On Tenterhooks

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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In the last few years, foreign missions throughout the world, particularly western countries, have been reviewing and tightening their visa issuance processes in response to unpleasant global developments, including terrorism and drug-trafficking.

Not too long ago, we have had some Members of Parliaments (MPs) being refused visas that they were trying to procure for persons through misrepresentations. It has not been established yet if the MPs involved were pursuing these agenda for personal gains.

But we acknowledge also that a lot of people look up to their MPs for all forms of assistance, believing that these legislators have the magic wand to unlock all doors.

But whatever it is, the institution of Parliament is a very important arm of government, recognized as such internationally. It must therefore live up to its billing by conducting itself as such.

Whatever image our Parliament has, would be a result of how Members conduct themselves while in or outside of the House. Indeed, it is not for nothing that MPs address themselves as 'Honourables'.

MPs occupy positions of trust that offers them the opportunity to offer dedicated service to their communities, through the passage of laws to protect and promote their interests.

And for persons who pass laws, which are meant to be respected, they are expected to be among the first to respect existing laws, whether local or international.

Over the past few years, the country has come under the international community's microscope as a chain in what has become one of the most abhorrent trades - drug trafficking.

Such has been the dent on our image in that illegal activity that in some diplomatic circles, the country is no more considered a transit point, as was previously the case.

Today, our dear country is described in some circles as a 'warehouse' in the drug business!

In fact the identities of some of those busted in recent times, with the assistance of Interpol, suggests that our country is increasingly becoming a haven for that illicit journey.

There is no doubt that the inadequacies of security agents at our ports, coupled with a high level of corruption, could be making our ports and for that matter, the country, more attractive to this illegal business.

The news that a sitting Member of the Ghanaian Parliament, Mr. Eric Amoateng, was busted in New York, in the United States of America, last week, no doubt came as a shock to many.

Whether the busted MP is convicted of involvement in the crime of drug trafficking or not, there is no doubt that the arrest alone is sufficient to leave a dent on, not only the image of the legislature of Ghana and government, but the republic as a whole.

The consequences of such adverse publicity, has always been for persons engaged in genuine businesses being subjected to very rigorous and embarrassing checks that end up delaying their transactions, with its attendant costs.

Worse still, such incidents have often resulted in the pulling up of the red carpet that is spread for legitimate representatives of all sovereign countries.

Even where it is still held in place, dignitaries from such countries attract a fair amount of suspicion.

For now, Ghana sits on tenterhooks; a helpless country, hoping against hope that the outcome of investigations and possible trial of one of its high profile citizens, would see him exonerated, to save its image from going to the dogs.

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