The United States ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, says 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.
The controversial agreement tabled before Ghana’s parliament Tuesday morning for consideration and ratification seeks to grant US military personnel, agents and contractors unhindered access to use agreed facilities in the country.
If ratified, it 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.
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.
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; something the government and the US have denied.
Speaking to journalists in Accra Thursday morning at an event 11th annual martin Luther King junior award for peace and social justice, the ambassador denied the US military is seeking to establish a military base per the agreement.
In his estimation, the agreement rather “protects Ghana”.
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.
Mr. Jackson argued that though for each training, the US will bring to Ghana up to 200 Americans that will not constitute an invasion.
“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.
He added it will also bring into Ghana “several hundred troops from the Ghana’s neighbours together with Ghana’s armed forces so they can learn to work effectively together.
“Once the exercise is over, the Americans will leave; there is no persistent presence. We have a very small group of military offices and soldiers at our embassy…they are the only US military who are in Ghana on a permanent basis and they are part of our diplomatic mission,” he assured.
In all, he said the US government will this year alone spend 20 million dollars on Ghana’s military per the agreement, something he described as “pretty significant.
Meanwhile, the ambassador has denied the agreement would grant US military unrestricted access to Ghana, stating “It’s not unrestricted access; only access to the bases that Ghana makes available to the United States for the exercise. The government of Ghana gets to choose those bases”
On the issue of why Ghanaian authorities will not inspect cargoes by brought into the country, Mr. Jackson said it is for security reasons but insisted that the government of Ghana will still know whatever equipment that the US military, its agents and contractors bring into Ghana.
“The Ghanaian government will know what was brought it, what is going out; it comes in as diplomatic cargo.
“There is no secret about it and if there is any secrecy involved it’s because the material is something the Ghanaian government believes should be restricted for public good so the enemies will not know what the capabilities are,” he explained.
By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana