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General News of Saturday, 23 February 2008

Source: cg

No US Base For Ghana

Bush says claims of US plans to establish military base in Ghana is baloney Source: crusading guide United States (US) President, George Walker Bush, yesterday put to rest speculations that his country had earmarked Ghana as one of the African countries where it intends to build a military base, after dispelling the notion that America had any such intentions.

Long before the US President’s final tour of the African Continent, it was rumoured that he would tour Africa to look for sites to build military bases. Mr. Bush who arrived in Ghana last Tuesday on his second-to-last stop of a five-nation African tour, told the press at a joint news conference with President John Agyekum Kufuor at the Castle gardens in Accra that, “I know there’s rumours in Ghana that all Bush is coming to do is to try to convince you to put a big military base here, that’s a baloney. As we say in Texas, that’s bull.” On the contrary, he explained that the new command, unique to the Pentagon’s structure was aimed at more effectively restructuring U.S. Military efforts in Africa to help strengthen African nation’s peacekeeping, trafficking and anti-terror efforts. Apprehensive of the consequences of the establishment of military bases, a number of African Countries except Liberia have vehemently kicked against the idea on the premise that countries who would agree to host such bases may be exposed to constant and unnecessary terrorist attacks. President Kufuor who has since the announcement of President Bush’s visit to Ghana, been subjected to harsh criticism from sections of the public over unsubstantiated allegations that he had agreed to host a base in Ghana, did not hesitate in thanking the US leader for exonerating him with his explanation. He was optimistic that his colleague President’s explanation would help maintain and strengthen the relationship between Ghana and US.

The two leaders who exhibited a high sense of cordiality all through the brief conference were evasive in their answer to a question on public complaints about China’s rising influence in Africa. Both Mr. Kufuor and Bush were careful not to criticize China which was gradually gaining favour in Africa in terms of investment in transportation, infrastructure and communication. According to President Kufuor, China was not coming as a colonial power but rather as a guest, adding that the memories of slave trade was still fresh in the minds of Africans. On his part, Mr. Bush said “I don’t view Africa as zero sum for China and United States, we can pursue agendas without creating an inherent sense of competition.” Meanwhile it was reported that before the US leader’s trip, some US official openly criticized China, holding the view that the Asian country only looked at Africa as a commercial entity whiles America was interested in extending help to it.

Touching on the motivation for his trip, Mr. Bush said a total of about one billion people were suffering from one or more of the “neglected” diseases namely: elephantiasis, snail fever, eye infections, river blindness, hookworm, roundworm and whipworm. He went on to announce a grant of $17m, voted to help in Ghana’s fight against malaria, and also a $350 million five-year plan to combat the so-called neglected diseases. President Kufuor received commendations from his US counterpart who sounded impressed with his leadership style and commitment to the promotion of good governance and respect for human rights. President Bush would end his visit, the second of its kind in his two-term presidency in Liberia today

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