The Foreign Minister, Hanna Tetteh, is expected to brief Members of Parliament (MPs) in a closed-door meeting on Friday, and prior to that, the minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) has lambasted President John Mahama for by-passing parliament to accept the two former Guantanamo Bay Al-Qaeda detainees.
According to the political grouping, the president’s action is a clear breach of the 1992 Constitution which could lead to his impeachment.
The minority said even though the president has an executive power, it is subject to the Constitution and that while Article 75 Clause 1 gives him the right to execute treaties, agreements and conventions in the name of Ghana, the same Constitution mandates him to seek parliamentary approval before the execution of such treaties, agreements or conventions.
The minority, who made the observation at a press conference in parliament yesterday, noted that Article 75 Clause 2 of the Constitution says that such treaties, agreements or conventions executed by the president, shall be subject to ratification by an act of parliament or a resolution by more than half of all parliamentarians.
The NPP Member of Parliament for Subin and Ranking Member for Foreign Affairs, Isaac Osei, who addressed the media, said the capricious use of the executive power by the president amounts to constitutional lawlessness and ought to be condemned in no uncertain terms.
The minority accused President Mahama and his government of trying to conceal information on the two Gitmo detainees, stressing that attempts by members of the minority to use parliamentary tools to seek more information on the two former detainees had been thwarted by leadership of the House.
“Parliament is very much concerned and at least five members of the minority have filed urgent questions but the speaker is yet to admit them. I have personally filed an urgent question asking the ministry of foreign affairs to give details of the circumstances leading to the agreement for Ghana to accept the two Gitmo detainees. One of my colleagues also filed an urgent question seeking an explanation of the nature of agreement and rights and obligations of the two states while another urgent question had been filed to ascertain the travel documents they entered Ghana with, whether Yemeni, Americans or Ghanaians and what visa, entry or resident permit, they entered Ghana with. Simple questions requiring simple answers and we were unable to ask them on the floor of the House because the speaker of parliament has not allowed them,” Mr Isaac Osei bemoaned.
The minority said it was becoming increasingly worried as fresh information on the two detainees who are classified as ‘dangerous’ by the US, keeps emerging.
According to the NPP, four Republican US senators had publicly said that the two Gitmo detainees had only been given a conditional release and had not been cleared at all by the US.
The minority explained that the four US senators – Mark Kirk, Roy Blunt, James Lankford and Steve Danies – had also expressed strong belief that Ghana does not have the capacity to manage the two former detainees and want the Appropriation Committee of the Senate to dock $10 million per detainee off US support for Ghana, should the two escape and attack American interests.
According to the minority, one of the detainees, Mammoud Omar Muhammed bin Atef, was a one-time fighter for Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda group and served in the 55th Arad Brigade as indicated in a report by the US Department of Defence published on 28th December, 2007.
The report said that bin Atef admitted he was a member of the Taliban group and also received training at the al-Faruq Training Camp and threatened to cut the throats of US citizens upon his release from the Guantanamo Camp, adding that he was adjudged a ‘high-risk’ detainee who was likely to pose serious threat to the US and its interests.
The other detainee accepted by Ghana, Khalid Salih Mohamed al-Dhuby, was also classified as being of a ‘medium risk,’ even though he had manned military positions in Tora Bora.
The minority said prior to the acceptance of the two men, four Yemeni citizens were arrested at the Kotoka International Airport on 24th November, 2015 with each carrying one counterfeit French passport and a genuine Yemeni passport, stressing that all the four (Yemeni) citizens had ‘fake Ghanaian emergency visas.’
According to the NPP, these developments, in addition to the presence of the two Gitmo detainees, pose a serious security threat to the nation.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are trying to build a democracy which our generation and future generations will be proud of. We have a national security issue with international ramifications. An issue which will transcend the term of office of the present NDC government; and President Mahama has decided the matter without broad consultations. In many democratic countries, consultations with parliament, political parties and civil society will certainly have preceded such a big decision. In Ghana, the president takes a decision and we are supposed to bottom up our lips because it is a fait accompli,” Mr Isaac Osei said.
In a related development, the minority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, on the floor of parliament yesterday, questioned why the Minister of Foreign Affairs should come and speak to members of parliament in a closed-door meeting since the matter is already in the public domain and is of interest to all Ghanaians. But the speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, said there were a number of considerations beyond security matters and that was why the minister would be having a closed-door meeting with the parliamentarians, indicating further that the leadership would meet and consider whether to make it public or not before the minister comes on Friday.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr