Are the hands of Ghana tied over GITMO–duo Saga?

I hope the legs are not tied too. That would be double agony. First of all, may I please crave readers’ indulgence?

I have a song on my lips and I just can’t write this piece until I drop it. Many Ghanaian primary school kids (yesterday and today) are familiar with this witty song: “A lion, a lion, a lion has a tail. It’s a big head and a very small waist, and a very small waist.”

Indeed Ghana has a tale (not a tail) in her hand. That which began two years ago as a serious issue has now become a measly fairytale, if you like. Where do we go from here? I’ve tried hard to wrap my mind around this GITMO saga and still I don’t seem to have any clue.

File photo of the GITMO two

Fact is Ghanaians knew the Amaale (AMERI) deal stung like the Bombardier Bee. Nevertheless, there’s something they could take solace in. At least Amaale had a dowry fee. In contrast, nobody knows how much cash or kind the US government offered the Mahama administration when Ghana accepted the two suspected terrorists in 2016. And that to me makes the GITMO-duo deal stink like a skunk.

Glad I’ve found Shirley. Madam, do you have a few minutes to spare so that I can run into this quick? What’s really going on Beau? When did you learn or find out, was it that there were no exit arrangements originally discussed between governments of the two nations to end the bilateral arrangement by the time of negotiations?

Once upon a time you told Parliament that the government’s “hands are tied” and it faces a difficult situation in terms of finding another country that may be interested in keeping the GITMO two. What did you really mean? Should I conclude that there’s no more exit strategy for the duo and Ghana has hit the brick wall?

[Read other opinion pieces by Gordon Offin-Amaniampong]

You know you could count on me anytime for my support and defence. And you know they’d be readily available for your grabs. But I’m afraid not today. Sure, if it were last year I would probably stay in your corner and cheer you up, pep you up and psyche you up. What are friends for?

Beau, I said it. I knew it. I knew it was shambolic. I wrote about it in 2016. It’s simply a deal that was dead on arrival. Yet John took the deal. Yes John couldn’t resist the red meat. He couldn’t say no. He took the undisclosed package alongside the duo at the expense of my admonition.

Now see how it is making you sweat as though you’ve eaten some kind of jalapeno sauce or ‘shitor’. Your body language emphasised that. Of course your beautiful face couldn’t mask the obvious. And a close look at your lips said it all — the die is cast. And possibly Miss America has had her lion’s share or should I say had the last laugh.

Ghanaians were under the impression that government was free to return Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby to the US government if it was not satisfied with their conduct while in Ghana. But it turned out the US has no obligation to accept them when their stay expired on January 6, 2018. Dribbled!

Always remember, a deal maker has the trump card. Thus whenever you’re venturing into a contest you’ve got to make sure you observe the following: Where’s the dice, where’s the money box or the briefcase? Who’s the dice, and who’s the briefcase? And last but not least, what are you going for?

A deal sometimes comes with a baggage. Not all that glisters is gold. You should always ask yourself the question: can I bear the baggage if things don’t turn out good or positively?

Unfortunately, that’s where Ghana has found herself. And we’ve got to deal with it. It may sound harsh but I think most Ghanaians have now come to the realisation that the Mahama government for want of a better word got tricked. The NDC government was kicked like a football and flipped like a pancake.

Today the burden is on the Akufo-Addo government. Ghana’s foreign minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey says the NPP government’s “hands are tied“. It also faces a difficult situation in terms of finding another country that may be interested in keeping them.

But I dare say that’s not the only problem confronting the government now. I think the continued stay by the two in the country puts what I term security a burden on our Intel services. Don’t forget these guys cannot access the community without being policed. The question is who polices them?

So you may be right in saying this: “Their upkeep is not the responsibility of the ministry. But you must as well flip the coin and see the other side too. Definitely the ministry won’t take that responsibility but it will be a security burden on the country and its people.”

The government at the time granted the two detainees refugee status. This followed a request by National Security of the then-Chairman of the Ghana Refugee Board. They were issued a decision letter dated 21st July 2016, recognizing their status as refugees,” the minister said.

Madam there’s more to the issue than the granting of refugee status. Ghana has been granting many foreign nationals with refugee status and it dates back decades. We’ve had refugees or nationals from Chad or the Sahel region, from Liberia, Sierra Leonne, neighbouring Togo to mention but a few. I think the problem is embedded in the undisclosed package.

Congratulations my brothers!

I’m happy for you guys. Glad to hear that you’ve both found yourselves, beautiful wives. I hope they will also enjoy their stay in Ghana much as both of you are enjoying or have done. “Both of them have married. but no not to Ghanaians. The two brides were brought in from other countries” Shirley told journalists in Ghana.

The GITMO Two — Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby — were brought to Ghana in 2016 for a period of two years under an agreement between the governments of Ghana and the United States. The agreement officially ended on January 6, 2018. The Yemenis were to stay in Ghana for two years after which the government was to take a decision on their further stay. But here it seems they’ve now found a permanent home — Ghana.

Source: Gordon Offin-Amaniampong

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