By Papisdaff Abdullah
President Akufo-Addo says his government’s handling of the military pact between Ghana and the United States exposes the hypocrisy of some front-line politicians in Ghana.
“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?” the President wondered in his national broadcast on the controversial deal which has been criticized by the opposition NDC and former President John Mahama.
The President also dismissed claims that the US is seeking to build a military base in Ghana.
“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 defence 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 defence 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 neighbours 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.
These, he said, include the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, amongst others. All these agencies enjoy similar conditions as those which the Co-operation Agreement offers to the US military here.
“No one has dared suggest that granting these foreign embassies and international institutions these concessions constitute an attack on the sovereignty of Ghana. Nor has anyone also felt that the concessions have in any way worked against the interests of Ghana. Indeed, I have no doubt that it would be the general consensus of all well-informed Ghanaians that this nation has benefitted significantly from the presence and activities of these institutions over the past decades,” the President said.
It was clear to President Akufo-Addo that, if the people of Ghana knew the conditions under which foreign embassies and our friendly international institutions operate in Ghana, nobody would have been surprised that a Defence Cooperation Agreement would make such provisions.
“Such knowledge would have spared many citizens the genuine anxiety and concern they have felt about the Agreement. It is my firm belief that the case for openness and transparency in our governance has been clearly demonstrated, and the argument conclusively settled by these events,” he said.
Reckless self-seeking politicians
President Akufo-Addo urged Ghanaians to take issue with the front-line politicians who have sought to mislead the people of Ghana in this blatant manner, and those who, for mischievous purposes, leaked the document destined for the scrutiny of Parliament prematurely to a section of the media, who then went on to describe it as a “secret document”.
“How could a document intended for the consideration of Parliament be described as a “secret document”? How could anyone who has been in government and run the administration of this nation feign ignorance of the conditions under which Ghanaian troops undertake peace-keeping operations, or the conditions under which our country has collaborated with major international institutions?” he asked.
The President continued, “It is difficult to understand that such people, knowing what they do know, would set about so blatantly to confuse people, and go as far as calling for the overthrow of our democracy? A democracy that has become the beacon of good governance in Africa?”
He was confident that this kind of cynical manipulation by “reckless self-seekers”, in the fullness of time, will be acknowledged and condemned by Ghanaians, stressing that “as the facts become clear and widely available, and as the people come to terms with the evidence, they will reject the falsehood and deliberate attempts to destabilize our peaceful country. Truth is sacrosanct.”
In conclusion, President Akufo-Addo expressed his outrage at the defamatory comments from him political opponents, to the effect that Ghana’s sovereignty had been sold by his government and himself.
“I will never be the President that will compromise or sell the sovereignty of our country. I respect deeply the memory of the great patriots whose sacrifice and toil brought about our independence and freedom. I have stood with you, the Ghanaian people, all my adult life, fighting for our individual and collective rights,” he said.
He assured Ghanaians that “Everything I have done, since assuming the great honour and privilege of serving you as President of the Republic, demonstrates that I remain focused on building a self-reliant, free, prosperous Ghana, which will be able to make her own unique contribution to the growth and development of Africa and the world.”
President Akufo-Addo, thus, urged Ghanaians to “concentrate and spend our energies on working together to achieve that goal of a happy and prosperous Ghana, and reject the hypocrisy of the naysayers who led our country into bankruptcy and the worse economic record of modern Ghanaian history. Let us rise above them, and build the Ghana of our destiny, the land of freedom, justice, progress and prosperity.”