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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ghanaians should resist making the Guantanamo detainees' issue Muslim/Christian or NDC/NPP matter

 President Mahama should be applauded for helping Obama to close down the illegal Guantanamo detainee prison.

More often than not debates about issues of national economic, political or security significance in Ghana quickly tend into debate between the NDC and the NPP to point that nothing in the country gets. Attempts by certain people to turn the Yemeni detainee issue NDC/NPP or Muslim/Christian affair should be resisted by all. Instead the pros and cons of the government’s decision to accept the detainees should be analysed.

In my opinion, it shouldn’t be difficult for Ghana's security agencies to handle the two former Guantanamo detainees and I do not think President Mahama erred when he reached out to US to help close down the prison facility in Cuba.

There were roughly 780 detainees in Guantanamo of which 678 had so far been transferred to about 56 countries worldwide. Of the 678 transferred, Ghana has accepted just 2 detainees. Other African countries that have accepted some of the detainees include Algeria 17; Morocco 13; Sudan 12; Somalia, 3. Libya, Tunisia, and Mauritania have also accepted 2 detainees each. Egypt, Uganda, and Cape Verde have also accepted 1 each.

Outside Africa, Afghanistan has accepted 203; Saudi Arabia 125; Pakistan 63; Yemen 22; Oman 20; Britain 15; Kuwait 12; Tajikistan 11; Albania 11; Kazakhstan 9; France 9; Slovakia 8; Russia 7; Iraq 7; Georgia 6; Uruguay 6; UAE 6; Qatar 6; and Palau 6. Bahrain, Spain and Jordan have accepted 5 detainees each. Bermuda, Bosnia and Turkey have also accepted 4 detainees each. Germany, Somalia, Belgium, and Switzerland 3 each. Eleven countries including the United States, Libya, Tunisia, Mauritania and Ghana have accepted 2 detainees each. Thirteen countries including Egypt, Uganda, and Cape Verde have also accepted 1 each. At least 10 detainees have been transferred to countries that can't be determined.

The problem is that the government wasn't transparent with the people of Ghana about the reasons for accepting the detainees.

Key cabinet ministers including Foreign Affairs’ Hannah Tetteh and Interior Ministry’s Mark Woyongo say they were kept in the dark about the decision to bring the detainees to Ghana. “I don’t know the details for their being here. I wasn’t privy to the discussions but may be that can be found from National Security. They are supposed to comport themselves, not to do anything untoward and I am sure they will be briefed on what to do and what not to do,” says Mr. Woyongo. According to Hannah Tetteh: "At the time the discussions were ongoing – especially because at that point in time it no longer was a foreign affairs discussion, it was a national security discussion – there were some of those discussions I was not privy to.”

Mr. Fritz Baffour, Chairman of Parliament Select Committee on Defence and Interior and NDC Member of Parliament for Ablekuma South says he and his committee members only got to know about the decision to bring the detainees to Ghana on US news network Fox News. “We heard about the Guantanamo bay too from an outside source; the Fox news, who revealed it before our government told us about it. I think the roadmap that was used to reveal what had happened to us was a little flawed…If there is a situation like that I think that we should have been informed or there should have been a way in which that decision could have been passed on to the people of Ghana and I thought that we didn’t handle it well,” he said.

The statements by Ms Tetteh, Mr. Woyongo and Mr. Baffour mean that the decision to accept the detainees was made entirely by the President. As the leader of the people of Ghana and the chief representative of all Ghanaians home and abroad, the president is mandated by the constitution to act in the interest of Ghana and Ghanaians. From international relations perspective the President’s decision was an attempt to boost bilateral relation between the US and Ghana.

Ghana was the first country in Sub-Sahara Africa to have been visited by President Obama when he first became president of the United States in 2009. Back then in 2009, Ghanaians enjoyed the fact that Obama selected the country for his first Sub-Sahara visit. Since President Obama has faced fierce resistance at home (mainly from Republicans about the closure of the prison facility in Cuba), it is right that countries like Ghana that love democracy, human rights and freedoms help Obama to close down the facility.

Lord Adusei

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