General News of Saturday, 29 July 2017
Ranking member on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has accused the ruling New Patriotic Party of playing on the intellect of Ghanaians as far as the issue regarding some two Guantanamo Bay detainees are concerned.
According to him, the same government that picked holes in the decision of the previous NDC administration to retain these ex-convicts is now looking for reason to follow in the same steps.
“The judgement is very clear, the rhetoric of the NPP when they were in opposition is very clear and I came to Parliament today, armed with all the statements they read at their press conferences and candidate Akufo-Addo now President Akufo-Addo, the statement that he caused to be issued on the 16th of April, distancing himself that he wasn’t consulted on this, and the January 13, 2016 press conference addressed by the NPP where they stated “so the widespread hysteria and phobia over the former Guantanamo bay detainees must be founded on genuine apprehension especially since it does not seem their own country Yemen was prepared to take them in”.
“We all heard the things they said, even that President Mahama had received money, personal inducement for this agreement and today, after the Supreme court opportunity, they had a wonderful opportunity because the judgement is clear that pursuant to article 75, President Mahama should have come for ratification from Parliament, once he didn’t do that, the whole agreement is null and void, so you just have to return the two if you want to be consistent with your campaign rhetoric”
Speaking to Joynews, Mr. Okudzeto expressed dissatisfaction at the responses submitted by the Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway on the issue.
Mrs. Botchway indicated before the house Friday, July 28, that the Akufo-Addo administration has not altered the formal agreement between Ghana and the United States over the two detainees being hosted in the country following a query from Mr. Okudzeto to that effect.
“Mr. Speaker, we have not changed anything. In the note verbales that were exchanged between the two countries. Indeed there was no agreement. The whole transaction was done through what we call a note verbale from both sides. What we have done is to attach all those documents.”
Mr. Okudzeto however argued, that the Minister, rather than admitting that her government’s fight against the then NDC administration’s decision to retain the detainees was a mere propaganda mechanism, she was finding alternative means to vindicate her party’s decision to follow suit in the NDC’s decision.
“I’m certainly not satisfied at all, the Minister certainly engaged in some rig-marrow, trying to obfuscate issues and pass the back”
“I expected that today, the Foreign minister would have taken the opportunity that I had offered by filing this question to apologise to Ghanaians because I knew that there had been a cabinet decision that we’ll do exactly what President Mahama did that’s why I filed the question and I thought that she would have come to Parliament with sincerity and would have showed some respect to the Ghanaian people who are very smart and discerning and recall vividly, all the things the NPP said”, he maintained.
He argued that the GITMO 2 case was a “very uncomfortable” one for the NPP administration because of the protests they made against the NDC’s decision while they were in opposition. He noted that the Speaker in Parliament was “visibly” uncomfortable, trying to rescue the Foreign Minister who had somewhat been entrapped.
“You could tell that with all due respect, the Speaker, today, he was very uncomfortable, he did all the answering for the Honorable Minister than the Minister herself and you’ll notice that the Majority Leader kept interrupting me. It is clear that it is a very uncomfortable issue for the NPP, they had a very tough time..”, he said.
Two detainees, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, who were in detention for 14 years after being linked with terrorist group Al-Qaeda, were brought to Ghana in 2016, for a period, after which they were expected to be reintegrated in their home countries.
The move was however condemned by many including the now-governing New Patriotic Party, who described them as a security threat.
The Supreme Court, in June, however, ordered that the agreement covering the resettlement be submitted to Parliament for ratification or otherwise, failing which the two ex-detainees would be repatriated.