General News of Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Former President Jerry John Rawlings, has somewhat kicked against the government’s decision to host foreign troops from the United States of America in the country, as part of a US-Ghana defence cooperation arrangement.
He said, “Ghanaians may love Americans but not to the extent of living with [the] foreign troops,” he said.
Rawlings, a former military leader, suggested that the presence of US troops in the country as being championed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, could be considered as foreign domination on the economic and social lives of Ghanaians.
The government is actively pushing for the indefinite hosting of military personnel and equipment from the US in Ghana, following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the countries earlier in March 2018.
The Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, who laid the agreement before Parliament for consideration on Tuesday, argued that Ghana stands to benefit so much from the agreement.
While denying that a land will be allocated to foreign troops to serve as a base, he said a few buildings have been identified close to the Kotoka International Airport to be made available for the use of the US officers.
As part of the agreement, the US military will be exempted from paying taxes on equipment they will bring to Ghana.
They will also be allowed to set up a telecommunication system on Ghana’s radio spectrum for free.
Ghanaian authorities will also be restricted from accessing the facilities given to the US officials when they begin using them.
Also, the foreign troops will be permitted to wear their uniforms, carry weapons, and use their foreign documents including drivers’ licenses in the country without restriction.
Although many Ghanaians are crying foul over the agreement, Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul says their concerns are misplaced.
But Rawlings, who has so far been very supportive of decisions by the Akufo-Addo government is not enthused about the moves to host the US troops.
“Ghanaians may love Americans, but not to the extent of living with foreign troops on such a scale. Ghanaians have enough foreigners dominating their economic and social life. Adding foreign troops to the discomfort would be a bit too much. Ghanaians have felt stateless before in my lifetime. Let’s not go there again,” Rawlings said.
Meanwhile, the minority in Parliament has called on the government to immediately withdraw the agreement from Parliament.
The Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in an interview on Eyewitness News on Tuesday said the government’s action was akin to selling Ghana’s sovereignty to the US for a paltry $20 million which the US Embassy in Ghana says the US is committing to Ghana’s security for 2018.
They are calling for wider consultations on the agreement before it is considered after a possible review of some of the clauses.