The Africa Confidential Blog
Furore over Ghana's US military deal
A defence agreement between the New Patriotic Party government and the United States has outraged some nationalists and boosted the opposition National Democratic Congress.
The deal gives the US rights to a camp for 200 temporary personnel, free use of radio airspace, tax waivers and freedom from oversight. In return, Ghana will get training and equipment used for the exercise worth about $20 million. The NDC accuses the government of 'selling Ghana's sovereignty to the Americans'.
On 28 March, thousands marched in protest. NDC General Secretary Koku Anyidoho warned on radio that President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo's actions would provoke ‘a civil coup d'état'. He was arrested on suspicion of treason and detained for two nights.
Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul insists the arrangement is for a camp, not a base, and that it is subject to continuing approval. Leaked documents in the pro-government press show that the deal extends agreements in 1998 under President Jerry Rawlings and 2015 under John Mahama. Neither NDC leader put those agreements before parliament. The row echoes wrangling in 2007 about US plans for its Africa Command, apparently in flux once more under Donald Trump's Presidency. With a massive drone base now in Agadez, Niger, the US is stepping up its security presence in West Africa. That makes Ghanaians of all political persuasions extremely uneasy about the consequences for their own relatively peaceful land.