– Double Standards

…Wants Gitmo 2 To Stay as he grants Executive Approval for ratification of stay under certificate of urgency

The new Patriotic Party (NPP) government’s u-turn on the issue of Ghana accommodating two former terror suspects from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has come full cycle, with President Akufo-Addo paving the way for Speaker, Mike Oquaye’s Parliament to ratify the agreement between the US and Ghana.

The President, on 19th of July, this year, granted Executive Approval for Parliament to ratify the agreement between the US and Ghana to have the two Gitmo former detainees stay.

A 19th July letter from the Presidency, in response to an 18th July request from the Foreign Affairs Ministry for a grant of the Executive Approval, stated that the President had granted it under a certificate of urgency.

“I refer to your letter No. LE/G2 dated 18th July, 2017 seeking Executive Approval on the above mentioned subject,” a letter titled, “Executive Approval On The Ratification Of The Agreement Between The Government Of Ghana And The Government Of The United States Of America On The Resettlement Of Two (2) Former Guantanamo Bay Detainees,” opened.

The letter continued that: “The President has granted Executive Approval under a certificate of urgency for the agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Government of the United States of America on the resettlement in Ghana of the two (2) former Guantanamo Bay Detainees to be laid before Parliament for ratification.”

Signed by Mercy Debrah-Karikari, Secretary to the Cabinet, and copied to the Chief of Staff, and Vice President, the letter instructed the Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, to start the motions towards the ratification with dispatch.

The development ushers in the climactic phase of the ruling NPP’s shocking double standards on the issue of the GITMO 2, whose accommodation they had vehemently opposed when they were in opposition.

President Akufo-Addo’s grant of an Executive Approval for the agreement to be ratified by Parliament is in spite of the fact that the Supreme Court has given the NPP government opportunity to return the two detainees to the US government.

Muhammed Al-Dhuby and Muhammed Bin-Atef were, in January, 2016, accepted into Ghana by the predecessor NDC government, led by President John Dramani Mahama.

The government had accepted to accommodate them on humanitarian grounds after they had been detained in Guantanamo Bay by the US for over 14 years without trial on suspicion of being part of the September 11 terrorist attack in the States.

President Mahama and the NDC administration had stringently screened the two former detainees to ensure they would not be a danger to Ghanaians, even as Nana Akufo-Addo, who was then the leader of the NPP in opposition, had been consulted on the issue before the two came in.

However, in spite of all the efforts by the then administration, the NPP started a hue and cry over the acceptance of the two detainees, accusing President Mahama of recklessly exposing Ghanaians to danger.

Central to the NPP’s castigation at the time was the claim that President Mahama had vandalized Article 75 of the 1992 constitution by failing to bring the diplomatic deal to parliament.

But in defense, President Mahama had pointed out that the decision reached with the US government was, “neither a treaty nor an agreement for which it should have gone to parliament for approval.”

Against this argument by President Mahama, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, who is now the Speaker of Parliament, had gone on the attack, insinuating that both President Mahama and his Attorney General at the time, Marietta Brew Appiah Oppong, did not know their lefts from their rights.

“The president is woefully wrong. An agreement is an agreement whether verbal, telephonic, sealed or whatever.

“Without an agreement those persons could not have been here…there was an offer and there was an acceptance if the Attorney-General advised the president on the contrary she should apologize to Ghanaians and resign.” Prof. Oquaye had lashed out.

In the heat of the argument, the NDC government was sued at the Supreme Court with a demand that the agreement be declared unconstitutional.

But before the case could be completed, there was a change in government with a critical NPP opposition coming to assume the helm of statecraft.

Ghanaians were however shocked when upon assuming office, the NPP government which was expected to push on with the stance that the two former detainees must be returned, rather started defending the Mahama government’s acceptance to host them.

New Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, went to court to continue from where Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong had left off eloquently advocating the rightness of the previous government’s decision to accept the two in without first seeking approval from Parliament.

On 24th May, 2017, Gloria Akuffo filed documents supporting the NDC position that not every agreement requires parliamentary approval.

The A-G argued that joint military exercises between two countries do not come before the government, despite an agreement covering the sessions.

The Attorney-General also argued it was “State practice” to conduct some diplomatic deals through “executive agreements” and cited examples in South Africa and the USA.

After all the eloquent efforts however, the Supreme Court described the argument as scanty and questioned, “Why we should interpret the terms of our Constitution in line with the provisions of another State’s constitution.”

“….and why we must follow another State’s practices, the Defendant failed to give us any cogent reasons or make any compelling showing.”

Referring to the diplomatic notes containing the agreement, the Supreme Court pointed out that: “Ghana binds herself to ‘receive’ and ‘resettle’ the said two persons, and assure that, ‘for at least two years, or longer if warranted by circumstances,’ these persons are kept under such conditions (i.e. monitored and surveilled) as would accord with ‘the security assurances in this agreement to be implemented.”

“Furthermore, it also appears that, under the agreement, Ghana is obliged to integrate the two persons into Ghanaian society. This is a unique obligation, since it compels the virtual migration of the two persons into Ghana.”

After examining the diplomatic notes, the apex court said there is “no doubt that arrangement….cannot be made without parliamentary approval.”

The court then gave government three months to either get the agreement ratified or send the two back to wherever they came from.

It is in a bid to ensure that the two, who were considered dangerous by the NPP in opposition, stay, now that the NPP is in power, that President Akufo-Addo has issued an Executive Approval under a certificate of urgency for the agreement to be ratified.

The climax to the whole ostrich dance by the ruling NPP on the issue of the GITMO 2 will happen when Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, alias Papa Ajasco, Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, superintends over the ratification of the agreement, which is sure to happen because of the NPP’s Majority advantage in Parliament.



Source: Fiifi Samuels

The Republic News Online

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