The Defence Cooperation Agreements between the governments of the United States and Ghana signed during the regime of the now opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 1998 and 2015 are to be tabled before parliament for ratification.
According to Information Minister, Dr. Mustapha Abdul Hamid, the move has become necessary because the implementation of the new agreement approved by parliament only last Friday is going to delay somehow due to some paper works.
The whole US-Ghana Military partnership was introduced during the NDC administration in 1998 when Jerry John Rawlings was the president and enhanced in 2015 during the time of President John Dramani Mahama.
However, in opposition, the NDC gurus have been going against deals they signed with the same country on the same subject-matter, and in the process caused mayhem in parliament last Friday.
The deal has become a heated public debate because President Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party (NPP) government decided to be transparent with the people of Ghana by sending the deal to parliament for ratification.
Yesterday, the information minister told DAILY GUIDE that the ongoing Joint Military Cooperation between the governments of Ghana and the United States is illegal.
This, according to him, is because the 1998 and 2015 agreements were both done without recourse to parliament and therefore has no legal backing per the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the GITMO 2 saga.
Although the 2018 agreement ratified is supposed to supersede both the 1998 and 2015 NDC agreements, Dr. Hamid explained, “There are some steps to take before the agreement becomes functional.”
In the interim, he said the government is sending the two previous agreements (1998 & 2015) to parliament for ratification so that the joint military activities will be bound by the laws of Ghana.
“Many people have raised concerns that until the 2018 agreement comes into effect, what it means basically is that we are operating under an arrangement that is illegal,” the minister said in Accra yesterday, adding, “In other words, the 2015 agreement was signed without recourse to parliament and of course, since it is an international agreement and per the GITMO 2 ruling by the Supreme Court, it will mean that we would have to take the 1998 and 2015 agreements to parliament for approval before they can become binding.”
He posited, “Now that parliament has approved the draft agreement for our relationship with the US and its army, what is left basically are two steps towards making the agreement functional. In other words, there are two more steps that we need to take in order to trigger the agreement and bring it into effect.”
Dr Hamid said, “First of all, the two countries have to exchange what the diplomats call Note Verballes. These diplomatic correspondences that will give effect to the agreement.”
He underscored, “Even beyond the Note Verballes, the two countries have to set up implementation committees that will guide the operation and implementation of the agreement.
“In the meantime, the current arrangement by which we are in a military relationship with the US is the 2015 Agreement that the previous government signed with the US. That is what guides the current joint military exercises and the military cooperation.
“Everything that we are doing currently with the US army is under the auspices and the ambit of the 2015 and even the 1998 agreements. That is what we will continue to operate until we have completed the processes for triggering the 2018 agreement.”
The minister indicated, “We intend to cure that defect by taking the 1998 and 2015 agreements to parliament for them to give us ratification so that we will continue to operate under these current arrangements that we have until we have completed the processes for triggering the 2018 agreement parliament approved.”
According to the information minister, “The Minister for Defence has told me that there are currently ongoing military exercises. He calls it ‘Operation Obangbami,’ which Ghana Armed Forces is undertaking right now with the United States Army. It is being done under the 2015 agreement. He also tells me that in the next two or three months there will be another joint exercise between the armies of the two countries. That also is being done under the 2015 agreement.”
Exercises In Danger
Dr Mustapha Hamid noted, “So we are actually really in danger of not having these exercises go on because really, if somebody was to go to the Supreme Court to say that we are operating under an arrangement that was not ratified by parliament, I guess that we would have fallen foul of the law.
“We are going to take the 1998 and the 2015 agreements to parliament immediately to get parliament to give us ratifications and then we can continue to operate those ones legally whilst we wait for the completion of the process that will trigger into effect the 2018 agreement we have just ratified before these ones would then lapse.”
The minister said that “if it means doing that we would have to recall parliament because my understanding is that parliament is coming back in May/June thereof and so we have to recall the house so that whatever arrangements that we have with the US army are legalized.
“The minister for defence has already said that we are where we are because of having gone through the motions for over a year now so it will take quite a while for us to get the 2018 agreement into effect…”
By William Yaw Owusu