21 January 2017

Ghana: Akufo-Addo's Government Softens 'Hard Stance' On Gitmo Two

The Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led government appears to have softened its 'hard stance' on Ghana's hosting of two alleged terrorists who were held in Guantanamo Bay for 14 years.

The president and his New Patriotic Party condemned and criticised the John Mahama-led government early last year for bringing two ex-detainees into the country.

They demanded that the then John Mahama-led government returns the two Yemenis, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al Dhuby, because their presence in Ghana exposes the country to external attacks.

Defence, Dominic Nitiwul suggested the Akufo-Addo government might have to relook at its position based on recent available intelligence on the two ex-detainees.

"But look, we've done one year now, intelligence will change, the situation will change. As we sit today, the government at that time analysed intelligence and took a decision. It is the same way this government is going to analyse all the intelligence related to this particular people and take a decision," he argued. This was after he was asked by the Appointments Committee of Parliament on whether he would advise President Akufo-Addo to return the two Yeminis as demanded prior to his election as the President of Ghana. Mr Nitiwul initially said he was "constraint to answer that question because the matter is in court" but said he would try to give what he termed as "a skeletal answer".

He told the Committee that he was not privy to the latest intelligence for which reason he would not be in a position to offer advice to the president regarding the best decision for the government to take on the matter.

"As I sit now, I'm not ceased with that intelligence to be able to tell you which way I will advice the president or not advice the president but intelligent will lead us as to the best way the government to take a decision regarding this thing," he stated.

Further, he said it would not be in the best interest of the country to discuss terrorism, vis-à-vis the two ex-detainees and the kind of advice he would give to the President in the full glare of the public.

According to him, President Akufo-Addo's stance on the ex-detainees was based on the fact that Ghana is a peaceful country and bringing the two alleged terrorists was going to put the country on the terrorism map.

"I think at the time that Nana Akufo-Addo made that statement, he made it in the line that there was no need to invite trouble to us; to put our map on the terrorist map at that particular period when Ghana didn't need to do that," he claimed.

Background The two ex-detainees were relocated to Ghana on January 6, 2016 after a deal between Ghana and the US governments. Many Ghanaians including security experts questioned the government's decision to host the ex-detainees who were held without charges and trial for 14 years.

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