General News of Tuesday, 20 March 2018
The Minority caucus in parliament has demanded that the Akufo-Addo government “immediately withdraw” the military agreement between the United States of America and Ghana, which gives the world’s military superpower unfettered privileges which, in the Minority’s view, undermines Ghana’s sovereignty.
Per the agreement, Ghana would, among others, provide “unimpeded access to and use of agreed facilities and areas to United State forces, United States contractors, and others as mutually agreed. Such agreed facilities and area: or portions thereof, provided by Ghana shall be designated as either for exclusive use by Unite States forces or to be jointly used by United States forces and Ghana. Ghana shall also provide access to and use of a runway that meets the requirements of United States forces.
2. United States forces are hereby authorized to exercise all rights and authorities that are necessary for the use, operation, defense, or control of agreed facilities and areas, including taking appropriate measures to protect United States forces. United States forces intend to coordinate such measures with the appropriate authorities of Ghana.
3. United States forces and United States contractors may undertake construction activities on, ant make alterations and improvements to, agreed facilities and areas. United States forces may carry out construction works and other services with military personnel and civilian personnel.
4. United States forces are hereby authorized to control entry to agreed facilities and areas that having been provided for exclusive use by United States forces, and to coordinate entry with the authorities of Ghana at agreed facilities and areas provided for joint use by United States force and Ghana, for purposes of safety and security.
5. United States forces shall be responsible for the operation and maintenance, construction, and development costs of agreed facilities and areas provided for the exclusive use of United State: forces unless otherwise agreed. The Parties shall be responsible on the basis of their proportionate use for the operation and maintenance costs of agreed facilities and areas provided for joint use byUnited States forces and Ghana. Ghana shall furnish, without rental or similar costs to United States, all agreed facilities and areas, including those jointly used by United States forces and Ghana.
6. United States forces and United States contractors shall be afforded priority in access to and use agreed facilities and areas that have been provided for joint use whenever United States forces are conducting exercises or other activities in connection with this Agreement in Ghana. Access to and use of agreed facilities and areas by others may be authorized with the express consent a both Ghana and United States forces.
7. From time to time, representatives of the Executive Agents shall conduct joint inspections of agreed facilities and areas, for instance at the start and completion of each period during which United States forces are physically present at the agreed facilities and areas. Each inspection shall be documented by written report, prepared by representatives of the Executive Agents, an: including the date, time, names of inspectors, and conditions identified. Copies of the report shall be provided to each Executive Agent within seven-1days of the completion of each inspection”.
In a statement, however, the Minority said the agreement, which was laid in parliament on Tuesday, 20 March, is not in Ghana’s interest. “More importantly, the Akufo-Addo government cannot disregard genuine concerns by Ghanaians that the siting of this base in Ghana and the presence of United States Armed Forces personnel, could make the nation a prime target for terrorists who have intensified their activities in the West African sub-Region”.
Below is the Minority’s full statement:
MINORITY STATEMENT ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF UNITED STATES MILITARY BASE IN GHANA
The Minority caucus in Parliament has learned with alarm, a decision by President Akufo-Addo to permit the establishment of a Military Base for the United States Armed Forces in Ghana and the subsequent invitation to Parliament to approve the agreement covering same.
After a careful reading of the details of the agreement and the cabinet approval dated 12th March, 2018, we wish to make the following initial comments:
1.We deplore the total secrecy that has shrouded the negotiations leading up to the drafting of this agreement. The Akufo-Addo government’s concealment of the agreement from the people of Ghana betrays a certain disregard for the sensibility of our people and their fierce defence of our sovereignty.
2. The agreement has been drafted in a manner that does not state a termination point. In other words, it would exist in perpetuity. This therefore binds all successive governments and yet little or no input was sought from political stakeholders especially those with capacity to form government.
3. Article 10 of the agreement confers exceptionally generous terms on the American side including sweeping tax exemptions on imports and exports of various categories of goods and services. We find it unacceptable that at a time when the Akufo-Addo government continues to lament significant shortfalls in revenue and in the face of astronomical duty payments by Ghanaian importers, personnel of the Armed Forces of the wealthiest nation on earth would be exempted from tax and levy payments and in such generous proportions.
4. The agreement has been presented in a manner that conceals vital information which should be available to ensure informed debate on the subject. Whilst Article 1(3) of the agreement mentions ‘Annex A” as the part where information relating to “Agreed facilities and arrears” to be used for the purpose of establishing where the base can be found, no information is provided in the agreement about the said “Annex A” or the “Agreed Areas”. This omission greatly hampers a thorough study and review of the document.
5. We find the non-availability of restraints on movements of United States Army personnel in Ghana as spelt out in Article 12 of the agreement, troubling, as it opens up the country in a manner that undermines both our sovereignty and security.
6. The waiver of the requirement for the use of valid drivers’ licenses issued by appropriate Ghanaian authorities in Article 13 of the agreement, smacks off wanton disregard for Ghanaian law and seeks to impose American law on the country. We are at a loss as to why US citizens in Ghana cannot comply with such a basic requirement?
7. We are deeply concerned that provision is made in Article 15 of the agreement for American Law once again to be imposed on Ghana in the settlement of claims arising out of the operations of the base including death, destruction of property or injury. This provision needlessly subjugates Ghana to the United States of America in an unacceptable way.
8. There is a manifest lack of clarity on the nature of the dedicated runway which Article 5(1) commits the Government of Ghana to provide. We wish be apprised of the exact runway in question.
9. Given our precarious economic circumstances, we find it unconscionable that Ghana would be made to assume responsibility including cost, for the provision of security for American Military personnel in Ghana as captured in Article 8 of the agreement.
10. More fundamentally, we find it difficult to appreciate how the Akufo-Addo government could enter into an agreement from which the country derives virtually nothing. We take note of claims by Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul that an amount of US$ 20 million would be given to the Ghana Armed Forces as part of regular support.
We fail to see how this amount can qualify as the direct benefit that we are deriving as a nation from this agreement which is so disproportionally skewed in favour of the United States of America. In any event, the quoted amount would be woefully inadequate to compensate for the huge sacrifices that Ghana is making under this agreement and the total surrender of our sovereignty. It further makes complete mockery of the much-vaunted “Ghana beyond Aid” slogan of President Akufo-Addo.
11. We condemn the offer of the use of a dedicated radio spectrum by the United States Forces free of charge, as captured in Article 14 of the agreement. This is happening at a time when Ghanaian companies have either had their licenses revoked or been slapped with astronomical fines for alleged non-payment of spectrum fees.
We wish to stress that the primary interest of any truly free state as Ghana, is the preservation of its sovereignty and the autonomy of its people. The proposed agreement denigrates both, as well as the authority of our government and laws.
In light of the above, we demand an immediate withdrawal of the agreement from Parliament pending the holding of broad consultations and a thorough national discussion involving all relevant stakeholders.
More importantly, the Akufo Addo government cannot disregard genuine concerns by Ghanaians that the siting of this base in Ghana and the presence of United States Armed Forces personnel, could make the nation a prime target for terrorists who have intensified their activities in the West African sub-Region.
In its current form, this agreement completely betrays the interest of Ghana.
Haruna Iddrisu (MP)
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (MP)
Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has denied claims that it intends building a military base in Ghana.
The U.S. embassy in Ghana, in a statement on Tuesday, 20 March 2018, said: “The United States Embassy wishes to underscore that the United States has not requested, nor does it plan to establish a military base or bases in Ghana.”
The statement further said: “The current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States of America and the Republic of Ghana, is approximately 20 years old. It does not cover the current range and volume of bilateral exercises and assistance.
“This year, the United States of America is investing over $200million in training and equipment for the Ghanaian armed forces. Ghana is also once again preparing to train U.S Forces as it did in 2017.