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Ghanaian president to Trump: We are not a ‘shithole country’

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, speaks at the Confederation of African Football 2017 Awards on Jan. 4, at the Accra International Conference Centre in Accra, Ghana. (Cristina Aldehuela/AFP)

Two days after President Trump described African nations, along with Haiti and El Salvador, as “shithole countries” whose inhabitants were not desirable as immigrants to the United States, the president of Ghana called the language used by the American leader “extremely unfortunate” and said that his nation was not a “shithole country.”

Nana Akufo-Addo, who assumed the presidency last January, made the comments on his Twitter account on Saturday.

In his own tweet posted on Friday, Trump had appeared to deny using the term “shithole” during a private White House meeting Thursday. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the lone Democrat present in the Oval Office at the time, said that Trump's denial was false and that the president had said things that were “hate-filled, vile and racist.”

Akufo-Addo is at least the second head of state or government in an insulted country to publicly respond to Trump. Macky Sall, president of Senegal, tweeted Friday that he was “shocked” by Trump's words, adding that “Africa and the black race deserve the respect and consideration of all.”

The U.S. government has faced a sustained diplomatic backlash over the past few days due to the comments, as well as widespread criticism from civil society. The government of Botswana issued a statement on Friday, condemning the remarks, calling them “irresponsible, reprehensible and racist,” and urging other nations to take a stand against Trump's remarks.

A group of African ambassadors at the United Nations also issued a statement on Friday that condemned the “outrageous, racist and xenophobic” remarks by the president.

Samantha Power, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, wrote on Twitter that she had “never seen a statement like this by African countries directed at the United States.”

Akufo-Addo's predecessor, John Dramani Mahama, also criticized Trump's comments in a tweet on Saturday. In his message, Mahama referred to speech made by Trump to African leaders at the United Nations in September wherein in which he had praised their nations — but also mistakenly referred to a nonexistent country called “Nambia.” Mahama's tweet used an altered image of an Oval Office meeting featuring Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to mock that mistake.

In an earlier tweet, Mahama had said that Trump's comments showed he was “nothing but a racist.”

Ghana, located in West Africa, is one of the region's most politically stable countries, and it has long enjoyed friendly relations with the United States — according to a Pew poll from 2015, 89 percent of the country said they had a favorable view of America, though that number dropped to 59 percent when the same poll was conducted in 2017.

Robert Jackson, the current U.S. ambassador to Ghana, told Ghanaian reporters last year that Trump's election would not change the relationship between the United States and African nations. “Our African policies have changed very little of last several decades. I expect that our assistance programmes would continue pretty much as they are,” Jackson told Joy News.

President Trump is under fire for referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shithole countries.” (Video: Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

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