US not establishing military base in Ghana – Nitiwul parries report

Source: Ghana| Myjoyonline.com | Naa Sakwaba Akwa | E: faustine.akwa@myjoyonline.com
Date: 20th-march-2018 Time:  10:55:40 am

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The Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, says a report that Ghana has entered into an agreement with the United States of America for the establishment of a military a base in the country is false.

According to him, that portion of the agreement as reported by the media are a misrepresentation and one that seeks to cause panic among the citizenry.

“The United States of America is not establishing a military base in Ghana, at all…it is not true and they do not intend to do that, not at all.”

He explained that the US has brought a Defense Corporation Agreement seeking an understanding of the status of their troops who come to Ghana to train our soldiers and vice versa.

He added that they have only asked to make use of some facilities at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and the Tema Port to keep their cargo and other materials they may use for during their stay in the country.

“There is no military base anywhere and people are running home with it as if the US has come to establish a base here…it is not true, please,” he stressed.

A document detailing an agreement granting the US military access to use Ghana as a base for staging and deploying its forces among others, has raised eyebrows among Ghanaians.

The document intercepted by Joy News shows that despite the unrestricted access and tax exemptions, Ghana has also agreed to bear the cost and take primary responsibility for securing the U.S. facilities in Ghana.

The document shows that negotiation with the U.S. has been ongoing at least for the past eight months, however, Cabinet approved the deal on Thursday, March 8, 2018.

According to the agreement Ghana will provide unimpeded access to and use of agreed facilities and areas to the U.S. forces and Contractors.

But this is not the first time such an agreement has been arrived at. A similar agreement was reached in 1998 and 2007.

The difference this time, Mr Nitiwul noted, is because of a tax waiver clause which requires Parliament's approval.

For him, he thought it appropriate to have Parliament to take a look at that portion of the agreement, a reason it has taken eight months to make details of it public.

Not doing so will amount to acting in contravention of the laws of the country, he said adding: “I have no authority to grant tax waivers, it is only Parliament that can do that”.

Mr Nitiwul believes the agreement is a strategic one which will only inure to the benefit of the country, and that the US military will only have access to “agreed facilities”.

According to him, the US through the agreement, will give Ghana some $20 million in grants and other logistics and equipment to support the military.

Kwesi Pratt

Kwesi Pratt believes the US military should not be allowed the privileges Ghanaians do not enjoy

But the Managing News Editor of the Insight Newspaper, Kwesi Pratt is unconvinced with the Minister’s explanation.

He particularly has an issue with a portion of the agreement where it states clearly that the US military is entitled to use and can have access to the country’s radio spectrum for free.

He questioned why this will be done especially at a time where local radio stations have been threatened with sanctions and an eventual shut down for not paying their spectrum.

Mr Pratt is baffled that the US military seems to have been given free access to the country, a development that cannot occur on a US territory.

“That is a source of worry,” he said adding “that is a surrender of our sovereignty.”

He is convinced that the agreement is a one-sided one which is not beneficial to the country.

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