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Gitmo 2 saga: Political gimmick at the expense of Ghana’s security

GITMO 2gh Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby(L) and Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef

Mon, 5 Feb 2018 Source: Marian Ansah

In 2016, the NDC government sealed a formal agreement with the US to host two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees in the country. This deal attracted widespread criticism not only from individuals but groups whose interest largely bordered on security.

Some officials of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the time posited that the move posed a security threat to Ghanaians. While the then Flagbearer of the NPP (now President Akufo-Addo) reportedly expressed definite reservations about the then government’s decision, the current Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid had at the time indicated that Ghana had become a legitimate target for attacks.

It is therefore baffling that even after opposing the deal, the current government has not repudiated the arrangement, thus leading Ghanaians to one inescapable conclusion that NPP’s denunciation of the deal pre-2016 was just a PR stunt aimed at playing to the gallery.

In light of the recent revelations by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, it is clear that both the NPP and NDC governments have not been honest about this deal. It therefore emphasizes the need for both parties to ponder and come clear on a number of issues;

What was the exit plan? The Foreign Affairs Minister, Madam Botchwey’s revelation that a refugee status was conferred on the two detainees in 2016 under the NDC government is not a good reason for the inaction. The Minister needs to be reminded that the State is perpetual in nature and therefore the decisions of the government, unless revoked, are binding. Therefore, one would have expected the current regime to show its displeasure by invalidating the refugee status for the two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees. Ghanaians need to hold the current government to account. To begin with, why was a refugee status conferred on them when we were made to believe their stay will only be temporary?

Withdrawal of Refugee status: Also, the refugee status conferred on the two does not make their return impossible. In addition, the continued stay of the two in the country arguably poses serious threats to the peace and stability of Ghana as indicated by some security analysts. By now, the government should have taken a firm stance, if Minister Hamid’s words are anything to go by. He had early on argued that central to the Jihadi ideology is the assertion that a friend of your enemy is also your enemy, hence, though Ghana may have received them out of generosity or compassion (as was the reason cited by former President John Mahama), in the mind of a Jihadist, Ghana becomes a legitimate target for attacks. In light of this earlier stance, his current explanation that the two detainees have comported themselves lately will therefore not suffice. Not only is his current stance contradicting his earlier assertion, but it also smacks of hypocrisy.

Details withheld?: Again, the people of Ghana need to take the previous government on for refusing to disclose details and making wide consultations. Every detail should have been clearly spelt out even if the agreement was reached under a Note Verbale and Memorandum of Understanding.

The decision to rush and keep the deal under wraps without disclosing details or holding wider consultations with key stakeholders is egregious.

Going forward, the government must be seen to be acting in the interest of its citizens. Any other consideration is secondary. The political propaganda must end!

Columnist: Marian Ansah
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