Home Politics US, Defence Minister Deny Military Base Claim!  

US, Defence Minister Deny Military Base Claim!  

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The United States of America Embassy in Ghana and the Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, have denied on separate platforms media reports that Ghana has entered into an agreement with the United States of America for the establishment of a military base in the country.

According to Dominic Nitiwul, 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.

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.

Mores so, a statement by the US Embassy in Ghana said “the United States has not requested, nor does it plan to establish a military base or bases in Ghana.”

The statement comes after a leaked document revealed that the Government of Ghana has approved an agreement with the US to set up a military base in Ghana and also allow unrestricted access to a host of facilities and wide-ranging tax exemptions to the United States Military.

Per the agreement, “all existing buildings, non-relocatable structures, and assemblies affixed to the land in agreed facilities and areas, including ones altered or improved by United States forces, remain the property of Ghana. Buildings constructed by United States forces shall become the property of Ghana, once constructed, but shall be used by United States forces until no longer needed by United States forces.

“United States forces shall return as the sole and unencumbered property of Ghana any agreed facility or area, or any portion thereof, including non-relocatable structures and assemblies constructed by United States forces, once no longer needed by United States forces. The Parties or their Executive Agents shall consult regarding the terms of return of any agreed facility or area, including possible compensation for improvements or construction.

“United States forces and United States contractors shall retain title to all equipment, materiel, supplies, locatable structures, and other moveable property that have been imported into or acquired within the territory of Ghanaian connection with this Agreement,” Article 6 of the agreement reads.

 “United States forces are hereby authorized to preposition and store defense equipment, supplies, and materiel (hereinafter referred to as prepositioned materiel) at agreed facilities and areas. The prepositioned materiel of United States forces and the agreed facilities and areas or portions thereof designated for storage of such prepositioned materiel shall be for the exclusive use of United States forces. United States forces shall retain title to and control over the use of prepositioned material and shall have the right to remove such items from the territory of Ghana,” Article 7 added.

“Ghana recognizes that it may be necessary for United States forces to use the radio spectrum. United States forces shall be allowed to operate its’ own telecommunication systems (as telecommunication is defined in the 1992 Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union). This shall include the right to utilize such means and services as required to ensure full ability to operate telecommunication systems, and the right to use all necessary radio spectrum for this purpose. Use of the radio spectrum shall be free of cost to United States forces.”

But according to the US, “the current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States of America and the Republic of Ghana is approximately 20 years old.  It does not cover the current range and volume of bilateral exercises and assistance.”

The statement adds that “this year, the United States of America is investing over $20 million in training and equipment for the Ghanaian armed forces. Ghana is also once again preparing to train U.S. forces – as it did in 2017.

“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.”

The US Embassy added that all further questions should be referred to the government of Ghana.



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