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Protests over controversial Ghana-US agreement gets momentum

...lawyer to challenge agreement at Ghana's Supreme Court

Protests against the controversial Ghana-US defence agreement that will grant the US military clearance to establish what is being viewed as a military base in Ghana, is being taking to another level as momentum gathers.

A legal practitioner in Accra, Nana Adjei Ampofo, has served notice to challenge the agreement, which has been tabled before parliament for consideration and ratification, at the Supreme Court next week.

“Everything is ready and by next week Wednesday, the writ would be filed at the Supreme Court, “he told Graphic Online Friday.

In his view, the proposed agreement is an affront to the security and integrity of the Ghana, despite assurances from the US Embassy in Ghana and the Defence Minister that the agreement will not in any way grant the US the clearance to set up a military base.

“It [agreement] will jeopardise our security and it is an affront to the dignity of Ghana as a whole,” he told the Graphic.

Many Ghanaians who have read the content of the controversial leaked confidential document concluded it would allow the US to set up a military base in the West African nation.

Protest gathers momentum

Momentum is currently gathering against the controversial documents which government officials say is an enhancement of similar agreement signed by Ghana and the US in 1998 and 2015 which has since lapsed.

Critics, including security experts have advised the government to proceed with caution in entering into such agreement as it will not be in the best interest of Ghanaians and the country.

A group calling itself Economic Fighters League which had planned to stage a peaceful protest in Parliament House Friday morning was initially denied access to the facility by security personnel.

After several back and forth with the security, they were eventually allowed into the House where the agreement was expected to be debated.

Some key members of the National Democratic Congress who have opposed the ratification of the agreement stormed parliament clad in red bands together with the minority members of parliament.

The minority members who have vowed to ensure that the agreement is withdrawn in its current form on the basis that it is against the interest of Ghana, wore either red hear or armbands to register their displeasure.

The ‘confidential’ agreement

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.

File: US troops

“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.

Justification

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.

But the United States Embassy in Accra has rejected speculations seeks to set up a military base in Ghana per the agreement, stating it has not requested and does not intend to do so in the country.

READ: Parliament receives controversial Ghana-US defence agreement

“The United States Embassy wishes to underscore that the United States has not requested, nor does it plan to establish a military base or bases in Ghana,” a statement issued by the US Embassy in Accra later Tuesday said.

It explained that the current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the two countries is 20 years old and “does not cover the current range and volume of bilateral exercises and assistance”.

Again on Thursday, its ambassador Robert Jackson assured Ghana will is not in any way ceding its sovereignty to the US by acceding to a military cooperation agreement currently pending before parliament for ratification.

No invasion

He explained the agreement is in line with three major training exercises that the US military and their Ghanaian counterpart have planned to conduct in Ghana this year, indicating that they will not bring into the country more than 100 military personnel at a time.

Robert Jackson is the US ambassador to Ghana

Mr. Jackson argued that though for each training, the US will bring to Ghana up to 200 Americans that will not constitute an invasion.

READ: We’re not invading or taking Ghana’s sovereignty – US Ambassador

“For each exercise we are looking at up to 200 Americans and we have, to my knowledge, in recent years never brought in more than that and for the time being at the level of operations we don’t contemplate bringing more than that, so this is not an invasion, I want to be clear about it” he stated.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana

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