President Nana Akufo-Addo is scheduled to break his silence on the Ghana-US military defence cooperation agreement, which has sparked controversy, and led to street protests, with a national address this [Thursday] evening.
The address will come off at 8:00pm on all major news networks, according to a post on the President’s Facebook page.
It is unclear why the President has deemed it necessary to now speak on the matter given the consistent stance on the matter by various government spokespersons.
The government has consistently explained that it was only respecting the existing Status of Forces Agreement with the US signed since 1998 and reviewed in 2015, under the previous NDC administration.
It also quelled speculation that the US was going to establish a military base in the country.
The US Embassy in Ghana also provided some clarity on the matter, saying Ghana will not permanently host the US troops.
But this announcement comes after an open letter to the President by the National Democratic Congress [NDC] Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who urged the President to speak on the deal which the government has said is in the interest of the nation.
“Respectfully, Mr President, you can, therefore, understand why most of us are extremely surprised at your sudden belief in silence. Your silence on the agreement issue is very much out of character, and we are sincerely befuddled. Everybody is saying this is not the man we have known [since time immemorial],” Mr. Ablakwa said.
The MP also challenged President Nana Akufo-Addo to renegotiate the pact to assuage the widespread concern of Ghanaians.
“It is for this reason, Mr. President, that a higher obligation is imposed on you to engage Ghanaians and take steps to renegotiate with the Americans those articles in the Agreement that the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians are affronted by, and compromises their sacred sovereignty.”
What is the deal about?
Parliament last month approved the Ghana-US Military cooperation agreement, which seeks to give US forces access to some critical national installations for their exclusive use.
The pact was approved without the Minority in Parliament who were opposed to it.
Cabinet agreed to provide the US’ military with a place near the Kotoka International Airport.
With the agreement ratified, it means that the US army will be exempted from paying taxes on equipment that are brought to Ghana as well as use Ghana’s radio spectrum for free.
The US will offer training and equipment to their Ghanaian counterparts.
Opposition to the deal
Critics have however said Ghana was essentially mortgaging its sovereignty by accepting the terms of the agreement.
The opposition to the deal culminated in a demonstration led by the Ghana First Patriotic Front, a coalition of opposition political parties.
Notable opposition figureheads, like Chairman of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Bernard Mornah, former Trade Minister, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, former Transport Minister, Dzifa Ativor, Deputy Minority Leader, James Klutse Avedzi among others joined the demonstration.
A number of Minority legislators from Parliament also joined the protests.
Prior to the demonstration, the Deputy General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Koku Anyidoho, was picked up by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for making some comments deemed treasonable.
Mr. Anyidoho had, in an interview on Accra-based Happy FM, indicated that President Akufo-Addo will be overthrown by a civilian coup because of the ratification of the controversial defence cooperation.