The Minister of Defense, Dominic Nitiwul, has clarified that the US government is not building a military base in Ghana.
“It’s not a military base. We don’t even have enough space in the agreed area for them to put up big structures. It’s just around the airport area,” he stated.
According to Nitiwul, it is only a facility to camp US soldiers in the country saying “they will not be stationed here.”
The Government of Ghana has sent to Parliament for ratification, a Memorandum of Understanding on defence cooperation between Ghana and the United States, to give the Americans some space in the country to set up a camp for its military forces.The document, sighted by citifmonline.com, said Cabinet approved the MoU on March 8, 2018, and recommended to Parliament to ratify the agreement to allow the US forces and their equipment unhindered access into Ghana.
Per the agreement, the US military force is among other things, to be exempted from paying tax on the equipment to be brought into Ghana.
They will also be given the chance to set up their own telecommunication system, although they will be allowed to use Ghana’s radio spectrum free of charge.
This has raised some eyebrows in the country with many questioning why the government will take such decision.
But defending the move in a Citi News interview after laying the document in Parliament on Tuesday, Dominic Nitiwul insisted that it is in the interest of Ghana.
Dominic Nitiwul also clarified the tax exemption part of the agreement saying it is in the best interest of the US military.
“If you give them a building it is up to them to be able to make some corrections in the building to suit the purpose which they are looking for. Military buildings and military purpose vehicles are different from the civilian ones. So if you give them a building or facility, they deserve the right to bring in contractors to make sure that they correct it to the standard they are looking for. And they are saying that when the contractors are working here in Ghana and they are bringing facilities in, Ghanaians should not take tax from them.”
Mr Nitiwul also said the US government has established such facilities in over 50 countries in the world with Ghana being second in Africa after Senegal.
“They have this agreement with over 50 countries. Ghana will be the 52nd country they are going to do this with; in Africa, we are the second. And from there they are going to do with other countries. So it is not as if the US has targeted Ghana. This agreement has been in my office for eight months. I have been dealing with them trying to correct it and make sure it is something Ghanaians can accept,” he added.
Gitmo 2 row
This comes on the back of the camping of two former Guantanamo Bay detainees, Umar Bin Atef and Khalid Al-Dhuby in Ghana; a decision taken by the previous Mahama administration that was widely criticized by individuals and groups including the then New Patriotic Party [NPP] in opposition.
Although the agreement for hosting the two elapsed on January 6, 2018, it later emerged that the former detainees have been given refugee status.
The US government subsequently said they ceased taking responsibility for the two after the agreement ended.
What is a Military base?
A military base is a facility directly owned and operated by or for the military or one of its branches that shelters military equipment and personnel, and facilitates training and operations.
In general, a military base provides accommodations for one or more units, but it may also be used as a command centre, a training ground, or a proving ground.
In most cases, a military base relies on some outside help in order to operate.
However, certain complex bases are able to endure by themselves for long periods because they are able to provide food, water and other life support necessities for their inhabitants while under siege.
Military bases for military aviation are called military air bases. Military bases for military ships are called naval bases.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana