Hon. Emmanuel Habuka Bombande
(Former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs) writes:
I have followed the intervention of our President, H.E. Nana D. Akufo Addo on the public discourse in regards the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement 2018 with the Government of the United States. The impression should never be created Mr. President, that those who criticise the agreement are peddling anti Americanism. This is an outrageous conclusion to draw. How would we describe the American citizens whether in academia or the media who are also criticising the agreement. Are we in Ghana suggesting they are anti American?
We are friends with the United States in a Partnership that recognizes our mutual national interest. The American Government will respect Ghana more when we stand tall with them in negotiating cooperation based on mutual interest and respect for the national laws of each of our two countries.
The current Enhanced DCA undermines efforts of respecting Ghana’s Rule of Law when US personnel cannot be subjected to prosecution under the laws of Ghana. It cedes away our rights as a people when we give away unfettered access to facilities in Ghana that is not time bound but is endless in perpetuity. In the current arrangement, there is no clarity on what items are tax exempt, what can come in as duty free and how they can be re-exported. In the current arrangement, US personnel will require only ID cards. This is not reciprocal when Ghanaian Officers travel to the US.
Ghanaians will continue to be friends with the United States. They admire us for our democracy and apart from.military cooperation, we have collaborated on several fronts. This is never an issue. What is at stake is to revise the current agreement so that it carries with it the dignity and spirit of the Ghanaian as clearly illustrated in the 2015 agreement. The Applicability of the 2015 agreement, the Waiver of tax or Exluded Costs, the Terms and Conditions and the Entry and Termination of the 2015 arrangement is not only specific and clear, they respect that the national laws of Ghana are integral just as those of the US. This is NOT the case with the 2018 DCA which undermines our Rule of Law, denigrates us as a people and disrespects our dignity.
Finally, we are not more democratic than the United States when their Congress did not ratify our cooperation agreements. In Bilateral and Multilateral arrangements, mutual satisfaction allows for countries to enter into such bilateral cooperation with sound legal effect. Because the 2015 arrangement was clear on how to exit and how to solve problems of interpretation, our Forien Ministry representing Ghana was very sufficient in the validation of the 2015 arrangements. The 2018 DCA has a fundamental problem in which our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration where we have the best trained Career Diplomats with bilateral and multilateral experience in nogotiations are marginalised. The Hon Minister for Defense has spear- headed current Government position as if it was an electoral campaign in his constituency rather than a very important national priority issue that requires national consensus.
In Peacekeeping operations, the host country however weak must have their national laws respected. Peacekeeping aferall is to help rebuild States torn apart by war. UN Peacekeepers cannot therefore under the Blue Helmet must respect national laws just as strict UN regulations when deployed.
I agree with Mr. President and respectfully so that peace and stability in West Africa is our national priority. This was the impetus behind the 2015 arrangements. Let us in 2018 continue to make such priority elicit the required international assistance to Ghana’s laws and regulations. Any agreement that undermines our democratic institutions and practices will weaken our stability, doing exactly what the DCA is meant to help us prevent.