Former President Jerry John Rawlings has added his voice to the many who are pressurizing government to abandon a military cooperation agreement with the United States of America.
The government is expected, under the agreement, to give US military personnel unfettered access to some facilities around the Kotoka International Airport in Accra among other clauses.
The Minority in Parliament, for instance, has taken a position on the agreement and has asked the government to withdraw the agreement the Defence Minister laid in Parliament on Tuesday.
Some security experts who have commented on the issue have aligned with the Minority MPs, fearing the country’s sovereignty could be jeopardised by the agreement.
Moreover, former President Rawlings, who ruled Ghana as a military leader for over a decade, has drawn the government’s attention to the already discomfort situation in the country, explaining why the agreement is inappropriate for Ghana, a former British colony.
“Ghanaians may love Americans, but not to the extent of living with foreign troops on such a scale. Ghanaians have enough foreigners dominating their economic and social life.
“Adding foreign troops to the discomfort would be a bit too much. Ghanaians have felt stateless before in my lifetime. Let’s not go there again,” Mr. Rawlings tweeted on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Minister of Defence Dominic Nitiwul told a press conference on Wednesday that the agreement is a renewal of an existing contract that Ghana signed with the US government in 1998 and was renewed in 2015.
CANNOT BACK OUT
He was clear that government would have to go ahead with the agreement because it cannot walk away.
He asserted, “We have already signed a 1998 agreement, we have signed the 2015 agreement, and we have already caught ourselves in this net and we cannot back out because this is just a combination of the two agreements.”
Per the agreement, the Bimbilla MP said, “all existing buildings, non-relocatable structures, and assemblies affixed to the land in agreed facilities and areas, including ones altered or improved by United States forces, remain the property of Ghana. Buildings constructed by United States forces shall become the property of Ghana, once constructed, but shall be used by United States forces until no longer needed by United States forces.
“United States forces shall return as the sole and unencumbered property of Ghana any agreed facility or area, or any portion thereof, including non-relocatable structures and assemblies constructed by United States forces, once no longer needed by United States forces. The Parties or their Executive Agents shall consult regarding the terms of return of any agreed facility or area, including possible compensation for improvements or construction.
“United States forces and United States contractors shall retain title to all equipment, material, supplies, relocatable structures, and other moveable property that have been imported into or acquired within the territory of Ghanaian connection with this Agreement,” Article 6 of the agreement reads.
“Ghana recognizes that it may be necessary for United States forces to use the radio spectrum. United States forces shall be allowed to operate its’ own telecommunication systems (as telecommunication is defined in the 1992 Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union). This shall include the right to utilize such means and services as required to ensure full ability to operate telecommunication systems, and the right to use all necessary radio spectrum for this purpose. Use of the radio spectrum shall be free of cost to United States forces.”