Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul has maintained that the 2018 Defence Cooperation Agreement between Ghana and the United States is not new actually.
He said the terms, conditions, rights and obligations contained in the document ratified by Parliament amidst rancorous debates littered in four separate agreements signed earlier between the two countries.
These agreements were signed in 1998, 2000, 2001 and as recently as 2015 in which two separate agreements were signed – one in March 2015 by Deputy Defence Minister, Alex Segbefia, and the other in April by Foreign Affairs Minister, Hanna Tetteh.
Speaking on Joy News/Joy FM’s news analysis programme Saturday, Mr Nitiwul maintained that contrary to suggestions that there are provisions in the 2018 agreement which were not contained in the previous ones, the new agreement is simply a consolidation of the earlier ones.
He said some of the key provisions in the 2018 agreement which cannot be ascertained in the 1998 agreement as clearly spelt out in especially the two 2015 agreements.
The Alex Segbefia-signed agreement in paragraph 2 said, “I have the pleasure to inform you that the Ministry of Defence has no objection to the intended deployment of US Marines and military aircraft in Accra as described in the US Note Verbale…”
The agreement added that “The carrying of weapons by the personnel of the mentioned force [should] be restricted to their duty posts and training areas only.”
Therefore, the US military using Ghana as a post for security purposes as required in the new agreement is certainly not new, he emphasised.
Under the 2018 agreement, specifically in Clause 2 of Article 2 offers the US Army rights of…“refuelling of aircraft; landing and recovery of aircraft, accommodation of personnel; communications; staging and deploying of forces and material…”
The Minority and opponents of the new agreement have pointed to this provision as one of the sticking points.
But Mr Nitiwul says the agreement signed by Mr Segbefia whilst the NDC was in office exposes the Minority’s argument as unsustainable.
Commenting to other aspects of the 2018 agreement relating to unimpeded access, tax exemptions, right to undertake construction, granted the US military, the Minister pointed to page 3(e) of the Hanna Tetteh-signed Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement.
He mentioned the items listed there as follows:
"Food, water, billeting, transportation (including airlift), petroleum, oils, lubricants, clothing, communication services, medical services, ammunition, base operations support, (and construction incident to base operations support), storage services, use of facilities, training services, spare parts and components, repair and maintenance service, calibration services and ports services.
"The term also includes the temporary use of general purpose vehicles and other nonlethal items of military equipment where such lease or loan is permitted under the national laws and regulations of the Parties. The term 'Logistic Support, Supplies and Services' refers to support, supplies or services from any or all of the foregoing categories."
In view of this, he stressed that without the partisan lenses, a reasonably diligent assessment of the agreement ratified by Parliament Friday would prove that it was merely a consolidation of existing agreements with the United States.