General News of Thursday, 22 March 2018
The Minority in Parliament has blocked the laying before Parliament, the report of the Joint Committee on Defence and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, on the agreement seeking to ratify the hosting of US military troops in Ghana.
In a brief protest between the two sides in Parliament today [Thursday], the leadership of the Majority said the report was ready to be laid before the House to allow for debate.
However, the Minority disagreed, insisting that the report wasn’t ready.
Deputy Majority Leader, Adwoa Safo, said she had been informed by the Chairman of the Committee that “the report is ready, but it is not being taken today, we are only laying it and the report will be taken tomorrow [Friday].”
The Deputy Minority Leader, James Avedzi, disagreed and said: “The indication I have from the ranking member of the committee says that the 5(C) is not ready so I don’t know where the chairman is coming from. So the report for this agreement is not ready,” he stated.
The Speaker subsequently ruled that the laying of the report should be skipped until the two sides can come to a consensus on it.
“If the report is ready it is ready. If it is not ready, you negotiate and if there is a negotiation and there is understanding I [will] proceed. [But] it appears there is clearly no negotiation so no progress.”
NDC MP walks out of Committee meeting
A Member of the Committee and member of the Minority in Parliament, Rockson Dafeamekpor, on Wednesday walked out of a meeting to consider an agreement with the United States of America for a defence cooperation arrangement that will allow them to have a camp in Ghana for its military forces.
Mr. Dafeamekpor, said the agreement which had been brought before the House for ratification had not been signed by government, hence his decision to leave the meeting.
“As a Member of Parliament, I cannot be part of a process that will go and vary the terms of a memorandum that is yet to be signed. There is no signature on the memorandum. The memo accompanying the memorandum to Parliament says in paragraph three that Cabinet approved the memorandum and approved and recommended same for Parliament for ratification. So the exercise we are being called upon to engage in is to ratify. We are simply to look at it and by consensus or voting approve of the agreement,” he said.
Nitiwul lays document in Parliament
The Minister of Denfense, Dominic Nitiwul, on Tuesday laid before Parliament the document seeking to ratify an agreement for space around the Kotoka International Airport, which will serve as a camp for some US military forces in Ghana.
The agreement will among other things, exempt the US government from paying taxes on equipment that is brought to Ghana.
They will also be given the chance to set their own telecommunication system, although they will be allowed to use Ghana’s radio spectrum free of charge.
Although many Ghanaians have expressed resentment over the clauses of the agreement, the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, said the agreement is in the best interest of Ghana.
The United States Embassy in Ghana also denied reports that the US government is planning to establish a military base in Ghana.
It said it is only planning joint security exercises with Ghana, which will require that US military personnel are allowed access to Ghana’s military facilities.
But the Minority had called on government to withdraw the agreement in its current form, saying it is not in the best interest of Ghana.
‘Ghanaians not ready to live with foreign troops’ – Rawlings
Former President Jerry John Rawlings, also waded into the controversy and said “Ghanaians may love Americans but not to the extent of living with [the] foreign troops,” he said.