General News of Friday, 23 March 2018
Ghana could become a target for extremists if the agreement with the United States of America for a defence cooperation arrangement that will allow the latter to have a military camp in Ghana is ratified.
The General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, Asiedu Nketia, who said this at the party’s news conference in Accra today [Thursday], indicated that the agreement if ratified by Parliament, will send wrong signals which could subsequently make Ghana vulnerable to attacks.
“The recurring theme of the US fight against terrorism is that Islam or Islamic extremism is to blame. The establishment of a military base in Ghana to combat terrorism could therefore send wrong signals and make this country a target of extremists.”
“We have witnessed this happen within the West African sub-region. You heard about the bombing in Burkina Faso. You heard about the bombings elsewhere in the world. In Kenya where our beloved Prof. Awoonor died. It was an attack against Western interest. You heard about what is happening in Boko Haram- It is an attack on western civilization.”
Mr. Nketia believes that Ghana does not need a “US military base on our soil to demonstrate our commitment to fight terrorism since existing security cooperation between Ghana and the US are sufficient to encourage bilateral cooperation in the global effort to combat terrorism.”
‘We’ll review deal in 2021’
He indicated that, the deal, if ratified by Parliament, will be suspended and reviewed by the NDC if it returns to office in 2021.
“We wish to state here and now that if President Akufo-Addo and his NPP administration proceed to ratify the agreement despite protests and public sentiments, the NDC administration which will assume the reins of government in 2021, will suspend the agreement and initiate a far reaching review.”
Mr. Nketia further defended previous agreements signed during their term in office, saying it did not put the lives of Ghanaians at risk.
“In 2015, in the height of Boko Haram insurgency, I think our sister country requested the support of Americans and the Americans wanted somewhere where they could store their consumables and other things and use here as a staging post to support Nigeria, so we went into agreement for that specific period.”
‘Details of agreement’
Among other things, 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.
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.
He said that the US personnel will only be given a few buildings to operate in, contrary to media reports that a portion of land was going to be allocated to them for the establishment of a base.