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NDC MP walks out of C’ttee meeting over US ‘military camp’ deal

Rockson Dafeamekpor

A Member of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, Rockson Dafeamekpor, today [Wednesday], walked out of a meeting to consider an agreement with the United States of America for a defence cooperation arrangement, that will allow them to have a camp in Ghana for its military forces.

Mr. Dafeamekpor, a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority, said the agreement that had been brought before the House for ratification had not been signed by government, hence his decision to leave the meeting.

“As a Member of Parliament, I cannot be part of a process that will go and vary the terms of a memorandum that is yet to be signed. There is no signature on the memorandum. The memo accompanying the memorandum to Parliament says in paragraph three that Cabinet approved the memorandum and approved and recommended same for Parliament for ratification. So the exercise we are being called upon to engage in is to ratify. We are simply to look at it and by consensus or voting approve of the agreement,” he said.

“The document they have brought to Parliament is neither an agreement nor a Bill. So we are asking the government to do the appropriate thing. They should take back the memorandum, execute it and bring it to Parliament for our ratification.”

Nitiwul lays document in Parliament

The Minister of Denfense, Dominic Nitiwul, on Tuesday laid before Parliament a document seeking to ratify an agreement for space around the Kotoka International Airport, which will serve as a camp for some US military forces in Ghana.

The agreement will among other things, exempt the US government from paying taxes on equipment that is brought to Ghana.

They will also be given the chance to set their own telecommunication system, although they will be allowed to use Ghana’s radio spectrum free of charge.

Although many Ghanaians have expressed resentment over the clauses of the agreement, the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, said the agreement is in the best interest of Ghana.

The United States Embassy in Ghana also denied reports that the US government is planning to establish a military base in Ghana, saying “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 US participants and those from other nationals when included.”

It said it is only planning joint security exercises with Ghana, which will require that US military personnel are allowed access to Ghana’s military facilities.

Speaking to Citi News after walking out of the meeting, Mr. Dafeamekpor, who is also the MP for South Dayi, called on government to withdraw the document from Parliament, make the necessary amendments before re-laying in the House.

“They [government] want to use the backdoor process to leave the agreement for Parliament to review so that if there is a problem tomorrow then Parliament will be blamed. We have discovered this fundamental flaw in terms of procedure, and I’m bringing it to the attention of every well-meaning Ghanaian that this procedure is flawed, it ought not to be accepted, Parliament is being hoodwinked,” he said.

“Nobody realized and raised the fundamental issue on the floor, so we are raising it here at the committee level, but they are not minded to agree. But I don’t think me as a Member of Parliament will be part of this process. What they are doing, they are asking us to be part of the negotiation, it is not our role,” the South Dayi MP added.

By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana

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