General News of Wednesday, 4 April 2018
A former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Emmanuel Bombande, says it would be wrong to compare the controversial 2018 Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between Ghana and the United States with a previous arrangement in 2015.
Comparisons have been drawn between the two deals in a bid to quell raging public disapproval of the current deal that many say could jeopardise Ghana’s national security.
Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako Jr, had sought to dispel claims that President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo failed to scrutinise the latest deal properly before presenting it to Parliament for ratification.
The deal was approved by the Legislature two weeks ago by a one-sided House. The Minority legislators from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) walked out before voting on the deal to protest several provisions in the current deal they say are problematic.
Speaking on Joy FM/MultiTV news analysis programme, Newsfile, on Saturday, Kwaku Baako claimed he is in possession of classified documents proving that former President John Mahama-led NDC administration approved for Ghana to be used as a base for a US military operation aimed at protecting US citizens and facilities in the sub-region.
The current deal has similar provisions, however, critics have been particularly opposed to clauses that allowed the US military unrestricted access to some Ghanaian facilities and the use of Ghana’s radio spectrum free-of-charge.
Wading into the raging debate that has turned into a political battle between the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition NDC, Mr Bombande — who was Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister in the John Mahama administration — dispelled the parallel that has been drawn between the two agreements.
He explained that the 2015 deal was signed in response to the debilitating Ebola epidemic sweeping across the West African sub-region and the threat of Boko Haram terrorists.
“The context, the circumstances, the urgent need for assistance, the timeframe and specific details on how Ghana could be a staging point for accomplishing the mission of combatting a terror and Ebola threat informed the 2015 Defense Cooperation Agreement which is completely different from the 2018 agreement. Kwaku Baako completely missed the point and has to come again. The 2018 agreement is debasing to the Ghanaian spirit. Simple!” Mr Bombande stated in a Facebook post.
He explains further: “Ghanaians will recall that in 2015, President John Mahama was Chair of the Authority Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS. The Ebola virus was wreaking havoc in Liberia and Sierra Leone with the attendant psychological stress of a potential widespread across West Africa. So it was not only to deal with the horrendous carnage unleashed by Boko Haram terrorism in North Eastern Nigeria with its attendant threat to West Africa’s peace and stability that President Mahama acted in providing regional leadership in the 2015 arrangement with the United States [hence] the meeting with the US Assistant Secretary of State, Bisa Williams in September 2014. President Mahama had sought an international response to Eloba and Boko Haram’s threats. [He] travelled personally to Liberia and Sierra Leone and offered Ghana’s solidarity while appealing for International help by breaking the myth that no could travel to these countries. In the same vein, West Africa needed urgent military assistance to halt the surging threat of Boko Haram.
“It was against this background that in offering assistance, the United States request Ghana’s support in the framework of the 2015 agreement. It was specific, it was time bound. it had a purpose and a mission. That mission had an entry date and an exit date. The US Military used our Airforce for the purpose of assisting not just Ghana but West Africa and the Sahel in accomplishing the mission I have elaborated. It was not just the Americans who used our base. The Germans who joined in the assistance also had military aircraft at our Air Force Base. Why is Kwaku Baako not talking about the German Aircraft which were also based in Ghana?”
President Akufo-Addo has not commented on the matter since it made headlines last month, but persons close to him say he has resolved to break his silence this week.