US military pact controversy rages on.

Author:Akomolafe, Femi

The controversy over the US-Ghana defence deal, which came into effect late last month, rumbles on, with the opposition accusing the government of 'selling out' to the Americans, contrary to Kwame Nkrumah's non-aligned stance. Report by Femi Akomolafe.

The deal, designed to give the US military an expanded presence in Ghana, brought out thousands of protestors in Accra in late March, criticising what they termed the establishment of a 'US military base by stealth' and accusing the government of 'selling the country's sovereignty for a handful of silver'.

Both Ghana and the Americans denied that the US was building a military base and said the new facility would be used for storage, training and joint military exercises. The 'handful of silver' mentioned by protestors refers to $20m that the US has said it will invest in equipment and training for the Ghanaian military, as well as in carrying out joint exercises.

What seemed to cause the most ire among opponents of the deal was what they described as the surreptitious manner in which it had been made, with terms that they called 'humiliating'.

As criticism mounted, President Nana Akufo-Addo said: "I will never be the president that will compromise or sell the sovereignty of our country. I respect deeply the memory of the great patriots whose sacrifice and toil brought about our independence and freedom."

News that the Cabinet had approved a MoU and recommended that parliament ratify the agreement to allow the US Forces and their equipment unhindered access to Ghana, had earlier brought about heated debate and criticism. According to the agreement, members of the US military will be allowed to enter Ghana with only their military ID cards and will be exempted from paying tax on the equipment they bring into the country. In addition, they will not only be authorised to establish their own telecommunications system, they will be allowed to use Ghana's radio spectrum free of charge.

Ghana will also furnish to the US, without rental or similar costs, all agreed facilities and areas, including those jointly used by the US Forces and Ghana.

US Forces and their contractors will be allowed to undertake construction to make alterations and improvements to facilities and areas. They will also be authorised to control entry to the facilities meant for their exclusive use.

Article 8 stipulates that Ghana will bear the cost of providing security for the US Forces. Article 12 removes restraints on the...

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