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Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul is denying claims that Cabinet has, pending ratification by parliament, approved an agreement for the United States of America to set up a military base in Ghana.
A report by Joy FM Tuesday says the agreement, expected to be tabled before Parliament sometime this week, grants the US Military unfettered access to “a host of Ghanaian facilities and wide-ranging tax exemptions.”
However, Nitiwul says “that is not true” and that what is being construed as a military base is only a “defence cooporation agreement” between the two countries to train Ghanaian soldiers.
The Defence Minister said Ghana and the USA have been involved in joint exercises over the years and what they seek to do now, including the use of two buildings in the Kotoka International Airport area, is no different.
Stressing among other disclaimers that what is being discussed cannot amount to a military base, he said “This agreement is not the first time” and that similar ones were agreed between the countries in 1997 and 2007. And it is going to Parliament because any foreign agreement must go to Parliament, besides requests for tax waivers can only be granted by Parliament.
“I have no authority to grant tax waivers,” he said, explaining that the partnership is strategic as it seeks to strengthen Ghanaian forces and defences particularly in this era of terrorism and terror attacks.
The report by Joy FM said the agreement, if ratified, grants the US Military unfettered “access to a host of Ghanaian facilities and wide-ranging tax exemptions.”
According to the report, Cabinet has also agreed to bear the cost and take primary responsibility for securing U.S. facilities in Ghana despite the unrestricted access and tax exemptions.
The media house said documents on the agreement in its possession showed that negotiations with the U.S. had been ongoing at least for the past eight months, however, Cabinet approved the deal on Thursday, March 8, 2018.
According to the Joy FM account, Dominic Nitiwul is pushing for Parliament to ratify it because he says it has enormous benefits for Ghana.
In 2008, rumours of a move to establish a military base in Ghana by the US, under then President George W. Bush Jnr,. met with wild protestations. Not much was heard or seen of it again, eventually denied by then President John Agyekum Kufuor and Bush himself.