A former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister in the Mahama administration, Emmanuel Bombande, has said a comparison made by Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul-Malik Kweku Baako Jr., of the 2015 and 2018 military deals signed between Ghana and the government of the United States, amounts to “comparing apples to oranges”, since, according to the security analyst, the two arrangements are totally different.
Mr Bombande’s comment comes on the heels of a recent revelation by Mr Baako on Multi TV’s news analysis programme, Newsfile, on Saturday, 31 March that Mr John Mahama, as president, gave approval for Ghana to be used as base for a U.S. military operation that was to protect “U.S. citizens and facilities in the sub-region”.
Mr Baako produced a letter dated 12 February 2015 and signed by Hannah Nyarko for the Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister, which made copious references to the deal reached between Mr Mahama and the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Miss Bisa Williams, at the Flagstaff House on 4 September 2014.
Based on that agreement, the U.S. government wrote a diplomatic note dated 5 February 2015, a copy of which was attached to the 12 February letter, in which the U.S. government sought approval from the Mahama administration to use “Ghana’s territory and airspace” for the operation.
“The operations involved the deployment of 200 U.S. marine forces, Africa personnel, 4 MV 22 Osprey and 2 C130 Hercules aircraft. The deployment was scheduled to begin on 10 February 2015 and last for approximately 5 weeks if approved.”
Apart from that, the diplomatic note by the U.S. also requested “clearance for U.S. aircraft to conduct overflights within Ghana’s airspace for the duration of the mission. Permission for the six U.S. aircraft to operate from and be staged on the airforce rump and for the deploying forces to leave and operate out of the U.S. expeditionary reception facility located at the Airforce base at the Burma Camp.”
In Mr Bombande’s view, however, “Part of our problem in Ghana is that we completely misplace such a discussion because of the eagerness and the rush to try to defend what is indefensible by comparing it with what has been a previous arrangement”.
He told Executive Breakfast Show host, Moro Awudu, on Class91.3FM on Tuesday, 3 April that: “The letter in question that Kweku Baako read, all the more points to the reason why quite a number of Ghanaians are frustrated about the current enhanced security agreement.
“And let me quickly explain what I mean: First of all, nobody has said that in the past, there were no security arrangements, so, to continuously talk about former security arrangements does not even begin to appreciate the issues that we are dealing with. And second, which is more important, the letter that Kweku Baako read on Newsfile is time-specific; it specifies which equipment can be used, when they can be brought in, when they can leave, which is completely different from what we are dealing with today”.
As far as Mr Bombande is concerned, the 2015 deal cannot be used as justification for the 2018 deal which the Minority in parliament, pressure groups and civil society organisations, have kicked against with reason that it gives U.S. military forces unfettered access to Ghana’s security installations and also infringes the sovereignty of the West African country.
The 2015 agreement, Mr Bombande said, “does not talk about unfettered access, it does not talk about an arrangement that is not clear, [it does not talk] of an exit clause in which you do not know when it will end, it does not talk about having officials of the military forces of the United States driving without licences or not being prosecuted if they find themselves on the other side of Ghanaian laws”.
“All those issues that take away the pride of the Ghanaian and makes the Ghanaian not to have a comparative, equal and mutually respecting part of the bargain, is what people are frustrated about,” he said, stressing: “In other words, an arrangement in which Ghana and the United States are mutually respecting each other as partners, is what makes a partnership in the context of your discussion to be appreciated and not an arrangement in which the Ghanaian is completely way down and the U.S. is way up. … So, you cannot compare apples and oranges. …You should discuss 2015 as an agreement and 2018 as an agreement, look at the 2018 agreement, compare it to the 2015 agreement, and find out: in which of these agreements did the Ghanaian lose that pride, that sense of being a proud African to be in a mutual partnership with the United States”.
Mr Bombande fears the 2018 deal, in its present form, could jeopardise the regional security of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He said “for all its purview in terms of how you look at the 2015 agreement, in the five-week timeframe, there was an arrangement for a specific and particular military operation that the United States was requesting and after that five-week arrangement, it would expire … but more importantly, it was an arrangement based on regional consultation to address a specific need in the region and to that extent, the friendly relationship, in terms of the diplomatic notes, is a gesture of Ghana, as a friendly nation, for those five-week period that would allow the operation to address the specific need.
“But that is not the arrangement in 2018, and keep in mind that we have a collective approach as West Africans through ECOWAS, to any security arrangement, so, if we create any situation in which there’s any period that does not clearly demonstrate the exit of this arrangement, how do we then sit with our neighbours and our colleagues in the sub-region of West Africa and explain the arrangement that we went into, should that now begin to undermine the collective and regional security arrangement under ECOWAS,” Mr Bombande added.