A controversial defence agreement between Ghana and the United States governments that would allow the US to establish what many have deemed military base in the country, has been tabled before parliament for consideration and approval.
The agreement was laid in parliament on Tuesday, March 20 in line with Article 181(5) of the 1992 constitution, which requires parliamentary approval in respect of “international business transactions” to which the state of Ghana is a party.
Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul who has denied as false, claims that the agreement seeks to grant the US the right to establish a military base in Ghana, laid the agreement.
“The agreement is made and is referred to the committee on Defence and Interior,” Speaker Mike Ocquaye announced when it was laid before the House Tuesday morning.
A Minority member of parliament asked the Speaker whether it was possible to refer the document to the Committee on Foreign Affairs “because it appears it’s got some dimensions beyond defence”
But the speaker disagreed with that notion, stating that there fact that it is related to two countries “does not really implicate foreign affairs”.
However, considering that the agreement is a legal document, Prof Ocquaye referred same to Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Cabinet at its 28th meeting on March 8, 2018 approved the agreement, following which the Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul, has since March 14, 2018 asked parliament to give effect to the agreement.
Approval of the agreement would grant US military personnel, defence contractors and agents among other executive officials unrestricted access to Ghanaian facilities for military and humanitarian purposes.
A copy of the agreement sighted by 3news.com reveals Ghana would grant the US military and civilian personnel a wide range of “privileges, tax exemptions, and immunities” as those granted to administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission.
“United States Contractors shall not be liable to pay tax or similar charge assess within Ghana in connection with this agreement” the document stated.
Personnel of the US military can also enter and exit Ghana using a wide range of travelling documents, including an identification card or individual travel orders.
Per the agreement, the US will use Ghana as a base to facilitate among other things, training of its military, staging and deployment of US forces, aircraft refueling and landing and recovery of aircraft.
Ghana will be mandated to provide “unimpeded access to and use of agreed facilities and areas” to US forces, contractors and other staffs.
Again, Ghana in the agreement commits to provide access to and use of its runway that meets the requirements of United States forces.
The new agreement 3news.com gathered, is a renewal of the commitments of both US and Ghana to an expired agreement, the “Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement” which was entered into on April 28, 2015.
It had the aim of strengthening the defence relationship between the two countries and also to address shared security challenges’ in the African Region, including those relating to the protection of Government personnel and. facilities.
Parties to the agreement justify the approval of the document ensure access to and use of agreed facilities and areas by US forces within Ghana.
According to the two nations, it will also ensure that there is enhanced and fruitful security co-operation between them.
It will again ensure that the two countries co-operate more in the area of exchange of information and the conduct of joint operations to combat the threat of terrorism and other challenges in the West African region.
By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana