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A response to the President on the 'Us-Ghana Military Co-Operation Agreement'

Sun, 8 Apr 2018 Source: Yaw Ntim

Mr. President, a few days ago I woke up to a myriad of reactions to your address on the military deal with the US. And I want to react to your address as follows:

OPEN GOVERNMENT

You created the impression that you ignored your friend's admonishing on "this democracy thing" and went ahead to send the agreement to parliament in the spirit of transparency. If so, why attack the minority for having prematurely leaked the document? Did you plan to make it available for public discussion at any point in time?

On March 23, Mr, Mustapha Hamid (the Minister for Information) publicly accused the NDC of having leaked the agreement and advised the press not to accept such leakages from the NDC. The same day the Defence Minister praised your government for having made it public in the name of openness. You have joined both contradictory versions. So where do we stand? Who brought the agreement into the domain of the public? Your open government, or the NDC?

Your claim that had it not been for your decision (to pass this agreement through parliament) Ghanaians would not have known that "for several decades, Ghana has had defence and security co-operation collaborations with the United States of America" is not true.

One only has to make a search on the internet (for US-Ghana Military cooperation) to acquire some information on the history of these relationships. You (or your government) are not the one to have brought this to the knowledge of the nation. We read about training exercises in the news, watched some news items of some exercises on TV, and, for some of us the curious, we know of the existence of programs such as ACOTA (Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance).

ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENTS

It is very unfortunate that you accuse the opponents of this agreement of promoting Anti-American sentiments among the populace. For your information most of us who oppose the agreement hold nothing against Americans. We simply are of the opinion that the agreement, as presented, is not good for the country. We do not want a military base in the country; especially when the duration of the agreement has no end. They say you are a lawyer, so you must know better.

Mr. President, what "unhealthy fog" clouded US-Ghana relations before you submitted this agreement to open scrutiny? Which open scrutiny? The one Parliament was only to ratify, or the one that came because the agreement was "leaked" to the press and fell under public scrutiny?

PREVIOUS AGREEMENTS AND SECRECY

You claim your government came to know of the 1998, 2000 and 2015 agreements. When did you get to know that? For a stint between 2000 and 2008 you headed the Foreign and Justice Ministries. Did you get to know of the 1998 and 2000 agreements? Or they were secrets so you never came across any memo indicative of operations between Ghana's Armed Forces and their US counterparts? You mean to say from 2000 to 2008 (when the NPP was in power) there was not a single US-Ghana Military exercise or collaboration? If the previous agreements were "secrets" why were some of the exercises published in the media?.

CURRENT AGREEMENT

You appear to be satisfied with the previous agreements. But are you satisfied with the terms of the current agreement? Is that why you are pushing for it? Well, for your information some Ghanaians are not happy with some terms, conditions and provisions in the current one. So we object to it and are prepared to create much noise and elevate the furore beyond what you have witnessed so far. We will organise more ant-military base demonstrations!

How can/will the agreement you have approved "only enhance the global effort to preserve the peace in our region?" This agreement has all the elements for the establishment of a military base. If you read and watch news on terrorism, you doubtlessly know that the aforementioned extremists target US interests (especially Military) all over the world. Have you mulled over the probability of a terrorist attack on Ghanaian soil as a result of your move? Are you ready for an Al-Qaida/ISIS attack in Ghana?

AGREEMENT MIRRORS UN PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS?

You say the conditions of the agreement mirrors that of Ghanaian soldiers when they go out on Peacekeeping operations. Am I lost somewhere? Has this agreement anything to do with peacekeeping operations? Almost all peacekeeping operations attended by Ghanaian soldiers are sanctioned by the UN, AU or ECOWAS. Which international body is sanctioning the agreement you are signing with the US? This agreement has nothing to do with peacekeeping, so why mirror it on a peacekeeping operation?

The agencies you mentioned (The UN, World Bank, IMF, ADB, IFC, etc,.), are non-military. They don't carry guns around town, bring warships and Fighter Jets. None of them stage or deploy troops or materiel from our land. So please do not compare their presence here with the presence of Military personnel (and equipment) in operational mode.

Furthermore, by saying that Ghana has benefitted from the aforementioned agencies without questioning the special concessions given them, do you hereby imply that Ghanaians should not question the:

- non-inspection of anything brought into (and taken out) of this country? - tax-free regime granted for anything brought (or taken out) in by a rich nation? - the complete and free use of all our radio spectrum? - the staging and deployment of troops and materiel from our soil?

UN Peacekeeping Missions have rules of engagement. What are the rules governing the operations under this agreement? Why should the only court of arbitration be in the US?

EQUALISATION OF AGREEMENTS

You, like your ministers, continue to seek equalisation of agreements. How can you equate this agreement to that of UN Peace keeping missions, when the UN Missions are multilateral agreements properly discussed and debated by nations, whereas this one is a bilateral one produced by the US and sent to you to approve? Is there any single point you contributed in the whole agreement?

OPPONENTS CONFUSING GHANAIANS - MEANING OF A MILITARY BASE Please note that NOBODY is confusing Ghanaians on the true meaning of the agreement - at least not on the side of those of us opposing the agreement as it stands. If there is any confusion on the true meaning of this agreement, then it is coming from you and your camp.

The bone of contention in the deal is the establishment of a military base - a fact you religiously deny. So for the avoidance of doubts, I reproduce below some definitions:

* Collins English Dictionary: a facility for the storage of military equipment and the training of soldiers.

* Wikipedea: a facility directly owned and operated by or for the military or one of its branches that shelters military equipment and personnel, and facilitates training and operations. Wikipedea adds that "Bases are usually extra-legal jurisdictions not subject to civil law. They can range from small outposts to military cities containing up to 100,000 people. Military bases belong to a different nation or state than the territory surrounding it."

Thus no matter how vehement your denial is, the sum of the agreement is the establishment of a military base. Article 2 clause 3 of the agreement (quoted below) should be enough to open your eyes:

"United States Forces may undertake the following types of activities in Ghana: training; transit; support and related activities; refuelling of aircraft; landing and recovery of aircraft; accommodation of personnel; communications; staging and deploying of forces and materiel; exercises; humanitarian and disaster relief; and other activities as mutually agreed."

Mr. President, only a portion of the agreement grants the possibility of doing all the undertakings of a military base. So why are you denying the fact of the establishment of same?

By the way, when Ghanaian forces go on peacekeeping operations, do they take control of the radio spectrum of the host nation? Do they go there with their own Contractors (mercenaries) and Civilians (CIA agents)?

OVERTHROW OF OUR DEMOCRACY

I am saddened by your apparent approval of the arrest and detention of Koku Anyidoho. I say so because you attack the opponents of this agreement by decrying the alleged call for the overthrow of our democracy. Koku Anyidoho made some inappropriate pronouncement that was recorded and is available on the net for anyone interested to listen and judge for himself. Did you listen to the full contents of the recordings? Did you understand the import of his message? Or are you just scared by the reference made to the overthrow of your father? Was Koku not threatening demonstrations (civil unrest) if you continued your drive to sign this agreement? Is civil demonstration (unrest) legal in a democracy if leaders are found to be going wayward? Cant civil unrest lead to the crumpling of a government or impeachment of a President? So why do you talk of the overthrow of our democracy?

With your inclination to go on with this agreement without further modification, I must say that you will face further and stronger demonstrations against the agreement. Please note that the demonstrations won't be anti-American, but anti-military base (whether it is proposed by Americans, Russians, Chinese or Extra-Terrestrials). We simply don't want a non UN (or AU/ECOWAS) sanctioned military base in Ghana. Ghana still belongs to the Non-Aligned Movement (South-South Cooperation).

MANUPULATING THE PEOPLE

Any attempt of manipulation on this issue is coming from your camp. It is your camp that is failing to understand the import of an agreement you are approving. It is your camp that is failing to know that, as far as the US Department of Defence is concerned, to stage (and deploy troops and materiel) refers to:

"1. Amphibious or airborne - A general locality between the mounting area and the objective of an amphibious or airborne expedition, through which the expedition or parts thereof pass after mounting, for refueling, regrouping of ships, and/or exercise, inspection, and redistribution of troops. 2. Other movements - A general locality established for the concentration of troop units and transient personnel between movements over the lines of communications......."

CONCLUSION

Mr. President, the terms specified in the agreement you want to sign with the Americans is not good for mother Ghana. It is not a partnership, but a master-slave agreement. It defies our neutrality as active members of the Non-Aligned Movement (South-South Cooperation). It opens our country and citizens up for terrorist attacks, because wherever America's military are present, terrorist are attracted like magnets to the vicinity.

We simply do not want a US Military base here. Temporary exercises, cooperation, and other operations sponsored by the United Nations or the African Union are welcome.

We have done it before and are willing to continue. ACOTA is here, sponsored by the American, but is a multilateral agreement - so we have no problems with that. What we do not want is a foreign military base.

God Bless Our Homeland Ghana And Make Our Nation Great and Strong Bold to Defend Forever The Cause of Freedom and of Right........ ...... And Help us to Resist Oppressors Rule With our Will and Might Forever More!

For the words of our anthem, I am (in the company of and countless Ghanaians are) ready to hit the streets day in day out until you recall this agreement and replace it with a better and more sensible one.

Columnist: Yaw Ntim
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