By Papisdaff Abdullah
Minority spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has described Akufo-Addo’s address on the Ghana – US defense cooperation agreement as “insulting.”
In a national address Thursday evening, the president tagged those opposed to the agreement as naysayers and hypocrites.
“And how else would we have exposed the unspeakable hypocrisy of the fraternity of some frontline politicians, who make a habit of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, who secretly wallow in the largesse of the United States of America, whilst, at the same time, promote anti-American sentiments to a populist constituency?” Nana Addo said.
Reacting to the 15-minute address, the National Democratic Congress MP for North Tongu, who mounted pressure on the president to break his silence on the issue, said Mr. Akufo-Addo failed Ghanaians.
“A terribly sad night indeed,” Mr. Ablakwa said in a Facebook post.
He added: “This is not how a President talks down to his own people. The intolerant, condescending and insulting response to genuine concerns of Ghanaians from all sections of society is very regrettable.”
In his address, the President also dismissed claims that the US is seeking to build a military base in the West African country.
“The United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and, consistent with our established foreign policy, we will not consider any such request. In consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in our region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America.”
He was confident that the US-Ghana Military Co-operation Agreement “will help enhance our defense capability, and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”
Explaining why his Government had departed from the previous norms of predecessor governments to keep military co-operation agreements entered into with the United States of America secret, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government was of the view that such agreements should be subject to the appropriate scrutiny of Parliament, in consonance with the requirements of accountable governance and the teachings of the Constitution.
“But for this decision to be open about this agreement, how else would we, the people of Ghana, have ever known that, for several decades, Ghana has had defense and security co-operation collaborations with the United States of America? How else would we have known that, in some instances, we have provided them with facilities for the movement of personnel and equipment to help some of our neighbors who were facing security and health challenges?” he asked
1998, 2000, 2015 Agreements
Touching on the conduct of Ghana’s foreign policy, the President stated that the country’s foreign policy has been consistently bi-partisan, and no successor government has found the need to tamper with any Agreement of a non-commercial nature, entered into by its predecessor.
He noted that “we respect the age-old norms of international diplomacy that, when a country has accorded concessions and privileges to another, these are not removed or altered by a successor government, unless, firstly, the conditions under which they were granted have been reversed; or, secondly, there is proven evidence of abuse.”
The President explained his administration came to know that Ghana had entered into a Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America, in 1998, 2000, and under the government of my predecessor in 2015.
His government was, nonetheless, satisfied that the conditions which necessitated the Agreements of 1998, 2000 and 2015, namely the creeping threat to the peace of the region, had not disappeared, adding that if anything, the threat had increased and, therefore, the need had arisen for continuing with the co-operation with the United States of America.
President Akufo-Addo stressed that no suggestion had ever been made that the United States of America had abused any of the privileges or concessions granted under any of these agreements, and it would, thus, have been deemed an unfriendly act to attempt to deny them any concession granted them under the earlier agreements.
Conditions of agreement
Touching on the conditions of the Agreement, President Akufo-Addo explained that these conditions mirror closely the conditions under which Ghana participates in peace-keeping operations under the United Nations, citing the example that when Ghanaian troops go on most peacekeeping duties, they do not carry their national passports, but rather carry their military identity.
Again, the President noted that quite apart from how this Agreement involves the military as an institution, it was worth pointing out that, virtually since independence, Ghana has had very fruitful relations with a range of foreign embassies and major international institutions.