Ghana’s Parliament on Friday March 23, 2018 ratified the controversial Ghana-US defense cooperation agreement.
The exercise was not carried out without drama as the Minority who vehemently opposed the agreement walked out, after making their disapproval known.
The ratification of the agreement would grant US military personnel, defense contractors and agents among other executive officials unrestricted access to Ghanaian facilities for military and humanitarian purposes, a situation many fear will compromise the sovereignty of the country.
After a heated and chaotic debate that virtually reduced the august house to a market place, it became a one side affair as there were only Members of Parliament on the Majority side who remained in the house to finish the last business of the day before Parliament goes on recess.
After putting forth a highly-spirited argument to justify the need for Parliament to accept the agreement tabled before them by a joint parliamentary committee, the Speaker Prof. Mike Oquaye decided to take a voice vote.
With thunderous AYES from the Majority and a silence NO in the house, it was obvious the ayes won the day and the military cooperation agreement popularly referred to as Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) was approved by Parliament.
Early on, Chairman of the Defence and Interior Committee Seth Acheampong who laid the report of the joint committee of Parliament noted that the joint committee thoroughly examined the agreement and finds that its ratification would help provide a mutually beneficial arrangement for cooperation and readiness to combat emerging global security threats whilst also enhancing the already existing relationship between the two countries in the area of security cooperation.
Seth Acheampong and the Vice Chairman of the committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Alexander Kodwo Kom Abban, who signed the report, made it known that the agreement establishes a joint committee to oversee the implementation of the provisions in the agreement
According to the report, the joint committee shall be co-chaired by representatives of Ghana’s Ministry of Defence and the Department of Defence of the USA.
But the Ranking Member on Defence and Interior Committee, James Agalga told the house the Minority is not in support of the report. He therefore called for amendment to be made to the report to reflect the fact that the report was solely the decision of the Majority NPP on the committee. These changes were accepted by the house.
The Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu also spoke extensively about why his side cannot support the approval of the agreement. He therefore led the Minority, who have been flashing “Ghana First” printed on A4 size sheets, to wave the house and walk away.
Meanwhile, some executives of the opposition National Democratic Congress stormed Parliament to protest the agreement. Just like the Minority who wore red around their necks, the party executives sat the public gallery with their red bands.
Others who joined in the protest included the leader of the APC Hassan Ayariga, Bernard Monarh of PNC and leaders of pressure group, Economic Fighters League.
Immediately the Minority walked out, the Speaker asked proceedings to go on.
Both Ministers of Defence and the Interior dispelled the public fears and debunked claims by the Minority that the agreement is paving way for the US to set up a base in Ghana. They also assured the public that the American forces coming into the country would not pose any threat to the country.
At the end of hours of deliberation by the house, the agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Ghana on Defense cooperation, the status of United States Forces, and Access to and use of Agreed Facilities and Areas in the Republic of Ghana in accordance with Article 75 (2) (b) of the 1992 constitution and the Standing Orders of the House was ratified by a resolution of Parliament.
By Isaac Essel | Owoahene Omari Acheampong |3news.com | Ghana