Hours after an agreement over an alleged siting of a U.S. military base in Ghana was reported by the media, Ghanaians have expressed outrage at the deal which is yet to be approved by parliament.
A “secret” document sent to parliament for approval last week by Ghana’s Minister of Defence Dominic Nitiwul was published by local news portals on Tuesday. It revealed that Ghana’s cabinet has been negotiating with the U.S. in the past eight months to set up military facilities in the country.
The agreement cited by Face2Face Africa grants the U.S. forces and contractors “unimpeded access to and use of agreed facilities and areas” and Ghana will “furnish without rental or similar costs to the United States all agreed facilities and areas including those jointly used by the United States Forces and Ghana.”
“United States Forces and Contractors shall not be liable to pay tax or similar charge within Ghana in connection with this agreement” and for imports and exports, they “shall be exempt from any inspection, license other restrictions, customs duties taxes or any other charges within Ghana,” states the 12-page agreement which among others grants the U.S. free use of Ghana’s radio spectrum.
The agreement was not received well by the Ghanaian public especially after years of denial by both Ghana and the U.S. government that there were no plans to set up a base in the country.
Former U.S. President George Bush had assured during a visit to Ghana in 2008 that they had no intention of building a military base in Africa but an office in an undisclosed African country to host the Africa focused U.S. military command, Africom, which is currently headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.
An opposition Member of Parliament, Sam George, said on local radio Starr FM that the agreement was “shameful” and an “insult” to all Ghanaians.
“This is an insult to everybody and every properly minded Ghanaian should stand up against it. We’re going to incur the wrath of Al-Qaeda and even Invincible Forces, we can’t stand them. We are not an ally of the US, we are friends,” he was quoted by Starrfmonline.com.
“We’ve become the mistress of America. You can’t sell our sovereignty. We’ll use every positive defiance action. It is shameful. Our sovereignty must remain intact and won’t allow a President who is at his wits end to pander to the whims and caprices of the US,” he added.
The backlash flooded both traditional and social media prompting the minister’s quick reaction to deny the reports saying the document is not a secret and the U.S. is not building a military base in Ghana.
The Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, explained that the document is a “defence cooperation agreement” between the two countries for joint training which involves the use of two building at the Kotoka International Airport.
“This agreement is not the first time and is no different from joint exercises held over the years … I have no authority to grant tax waivers,” he was quoted by the Daily Graphic, adding that the partnership is strategic to strengthen Ghanaian forces against terrorism and terror attacks.
The United States Embassy confirmed the minister’s statement saying, “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.”
“The United States and Ghana are planning joint security exercises in 2018 which require access to Ghanaian bases by U.S participants and those from other nations when included. We refer all questions to the government of Ghana,” the U.S. embassy added.
— US Embassy Ghana (@USEmbassyGhana) March 20, 2018
Read the agreement below: