Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo

ACCRA, Ghana–– The president of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo on Thursday defended his government’s approval of an expanded military cooperation with the United States, arguing that it would enhance peace efforts in the West African sub-region.

Akufo-Addo said the U.S.–Ghana deal, which was approved by parliament last month and allows for the deployment of U.S troops and their military equipment in Ghana, was in line with previous international pacts and did not constitute an offer to Washington to establish a military base.

Globe Afrique’s sources in Africa say opposition lawmakers in the Ghanaian parliament boycotted the vote after failing to block its approval, hence leaving members of the ruling party to ratify it.

In a televised speech,  Akufo-Addo said: “It is our firm belief that the agreement will help enhance our defense capability, and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”

The televised remarks were his first comment on a deal widely criticized by Ghanaians, including minor political parties and civil society groups.

Last week, thousands of Ghanaians demonstrated against the deal in the capital Accra, in a sporadic public display of opposition to a growing foreign military presence in West Africa.

Foreign affairs observers say the deal will also allow U.S troops to use an airport runway that meets U.S. standards, and have free access to Ghana’s radio spectrum. The United States, in return, will invest an estimated $20 million dollars in equipment and the training of Ghanaian troops both in Ghana and the United States.

The Ghanaian leader rejected assertions by critics and local online bloggers that the agreement would allow the United States to establish a military base in Ghana.

Akufo-Addo, in a speech, said, “So let me state with the clearest affirmation that Ghana has not offered a military base, and will not offer a military base to the United States of America.”

“Indeed, the United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and, consistent with our established foreign policy, we will not consider any such request,” he added.