Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo defended his government’s approval of expanded military co-operation with the United States, saying it would enhance peace efforts in West Africa.
He said the deal, approved by parliament last month and allows for the deployment of US troops and military equipment in Ghana, was in line with previous international pacts and was not an offer to Washington to establish a military base.
Opposition lawmakers boycotted the vote after failing to block its approval, leaving members of the ruling party to ratify it.
“It is our firm belief the agreement will help enhance our defence capability and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region,” Akufo-Addo said in a televised speech.
It was his first comment on a deal widely criticised by Ghanaians, including civil society groups and minor political parties.
Thousands of Ghanaians last week protested in Accra against the agreement, a rare public display of opposition to a growing foreign military presence in West Africa.
The deal will also allow US troops to use an airport runway that meets US standards and have free access to Ghana’s radio spectrum. In return, the United States will invest $20 million in equipment and training of Ghanaian troops.
Akufo-Addo rejected assertions by critics the deal would allow the United States to establish a military base in Ghana.
“Let me state with the clearest affirmation Ghana has not offered a military base and will not offer a military base to the United States of America,” he said.
“The United States has not made any request for such consideration and, consistent with our established foreign policy, we will not consider any such request,” he added.