- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2013

President Obama remains the world’s chattiest leader, with a chart-topping 24 million followers on Twitter – far outpacing his nearest competitor, the cancer-stricken Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who has 4 million.

The Digital Policy Council – a private, international think tank that tracks tweets by presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens – was astounded that Mr. Obama’s Twitter audience surged by 15 million in an election year.

When he won a second term on Nov. 6, his campaign tweeted: “Four more years.”

“Throughout the day, more than 31 million election-related tweets were sent out, creating the most tweeted-about event in U.S. political history,” the group said this week, releasing its annual review of world leaders with Twitter accounts. “In 2012, the Digital Policy Council observed a tremendous growth in the number of governments embracing social media.”

It found that 123 world leaders in 164 countries recognized by the United Nations sent out tweets last year, a 78 percent increase from 2011, when social media played a key role in the Arab Spring uprisings.

Even some world leaders who had been resisting social media opened Twitter accounts last year.

“You’ve got to get with the program, I suppose,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said after sending his first tweet in October at his Conservative Party’s political convention.

Mr. Cameron, with 190,000 Twitter followers, ranked 23rd among world leaders in the council report. He was a few points ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,with 129,000.

After Mr. Obama and Mr. Chavez, leaders on the council’s top 10 list are:

Turkish PresidentAbdullah Gul, with 2.6 million followers.

Jordan’s Queen Rania, with 2.4 million.

Russian Prime MinisterDmitry Medvedev, with 2 million.

Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, with 1.7 million.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, with 1.5 million.

Colombian PresidentJuan Manuel Santos, with 1.4 million.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, with 1.36 million.

Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, with 1.34 million.

The bottom of the list was anchored by Yahya Jammeh, president of the West African nation of Gambia.

Only 37 people followed his tweets.

‘Baseless’ report

The Israeli Embassy is dismissing reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has chosen a top adviser as his new ambassador to the United States, but the rumor will not die.

The Miami Herald this week was the latest newspaper to report thatRon Dermer, a Miami Beach native, is expected to replace Ambassador Michael Oren, who will complete four years as Israel’s envoy in Washington in June.

Like Mr. Dermer, Mr. Oren was born in the United States and gave up his American citizenship to serve Israel.

The Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon first reported the rumor last week, and the Jewish Telegraph Agency news service picked up the story.

The news reports noted that Mr. Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on the rumors, adding credence to the speculation.

However, Israeli Embassy spokesman Aaran Saqui in Washington dismissed the reports as “baseless.”

“No decision has been made regarding the next ambassador to the United States or the timing of appointing a new ambassador,” he told the New York-based Jewish newspaper Forward.

He insisted that Mr. Oren is “continuing in his position as planned.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email [email protected] The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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