Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has said that the previous John Mahama administration’s handling of the hosting of the two Ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees in Ghana, cannot be compared the current government’s handling of the proposed US military camp in the country.
Although the courts established that the NDC administration never sought parliamentary approval for that agreement and ordered that to be done months after the two had been accepted in the country,Mr. Ablakwa says unlike the NPP, they consulted various stakeholders on the move before the men were brought into the country.
The Minority has strongly condemned government’s decision to present before Parliament for ratification, a Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation between Ghana and the United States, that will give the Americans some space in the country to set up a base for its military forces.
The Minority has argued that the deal was in bad taste and should therefore be withdrawn from Parliament to allow for deeper consultations and a possible review of some clauses.
But some Ghanaians have questioned the Minority’s moral right to take on government seeing the controversy that surrounded the hosting of the ex-Gitmo two who have now become a burden for the government.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Ablakwa refuted these claims, insisting that unlike this current deal, the previous government consulted key stakeholders, including political party leaders before sealing the Gitmo two agreement.
“I want to place on record that when we began negotiations with the Americans on accepting the Gitmo two deal, there were broad consultations. Indeed one of the conditions that we gave the Americans was that they ought to reach out to opposition leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo. And if you recall, the office of the opposition leader issued a statement confirming that they were consulted except that they said that at the time they were consulted, it was virtually a bit complete and they believe that the Mahama administration had already accepted to receive the two”.
“We issued a public statement before the Gitmo two arrived. The honourable Minister signed a public statement unlike the government of the NPP that has failed to consult political parties. I don’t see how you can compare the Gitmo 2 agreement to the current arrangement which gives out our radio spectrum for free and does not allow us to check what will be brought into our country,”he told host of Eyewitness News, Umaru Sanda Amadu.
‘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.
Mr. Ablakwa however believes this poses a major security threat to Ghana, given that the US military will be given unrestricted access.
“This is not about anti American sentiments. We love relations with the United States of America. As Ghanaian leaders we should also be thinking about Ghana first. We have seen all the terms in this agreement. We have seen how our radio spectrum is handed over free of charge at a time when Ghanaian companies are being hounded, people have lost their licenses and those who have defaulted have been fined heavily and yet the wealthiest nation is not to pay anything for our radio spectrum. There are larger security implications about having this permanent presence for this length of time.”