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Context of '(3.00pm-3:30pm) March 11, 1965: US Ambassador to Ghana and CIA Director Discuss Upcoming Coup Attempt in Ghana'

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Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah spends much of his time campaigning for the political unity of black Africa. In his 1961 book, I Speak of Freedom, Nkrumah writes of the need for a united black Africa. “Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world,” he writes. However, other African governments, burdened with their own problems, are reluctant to heed his call. [Nkrumah, 1961; BBC, 11/4/1997; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2004]

Entity Tags: Kwame Nkrumah

Timeline Tags: US-Ghana (1952-1966)

Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah introduces his Soviet-inspired Seven-Year Plan to establish state-owned factories and public authorities. The projects are financed by foreign loans and taxes, saddling the country with debt and stifling certain sectors of the economy. Cocoa production in Ghana drops dramatically when farmers, whose income has been reduced by the government marketing board’s price controls, begin smuggling cocoa to neighboring countries or switch to other crops. As a result, Ghana ceases to be the world’s largest cocoa producer. Burdened with debt, the Ghanaian economy contracts, undermining the Nkrumah government’s popularity. The downturn brings widespread unrest which is exacerbated by criticisms that Nkrumah is focusing too much on the promotion of his vision of African-unity (see 1960-1966). [Yergin and Stanislaw, 1998; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2004]

Entity Tags: Kwame Nkrumah

Timeline Tags: US-Ghana (1952-1966)

In Washington, D.C., US ambassador to Ghana William P. Mahoney meets with CIA Director John A. McCone and the deputy chief of the CIA’s Africa division [name unknown] to discuss a “Coup d’etat Plot” in Ghana. According to a CIA document summarizing the meeting, Mahoney says that he is uncertain whether the coup, being planned by Acting Police Commissioner Harlley and Generals “Otu” and “Ankrah,” will ever come to pass. Notwithstanding, he adds that he is confident that President Kwame Nkrumah will not make it another year, given his waning popularity and Ghana’s deteriorating economy. “In the interests of further weakening Nkrumah,” Mahoney recommends that the US deny Nkrumah’s forthcoming request for financial assistance, according to the CIA memo. He adds that by refusing the request it would make a “desirable impression on other countries in Africa,” the memo also says. In the event of a coup, Mahoney says a military junta would likely come to power. [Central Intelligence Agency, 3/11/1965; SeeingBlack (.com), 6/7/2002]

Entity Tags: John A. McCone, William P. Mahoney

Timeline Tags: US-Ghana (1952-1966)

Robert W. Komer, a National Security Council staffer, says in a memorandum to McGeorge Bundy, President Johnson’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, that plans to overthrow the Ghanaian government are looking “good.” “[W]e may have a pro-Western coup in Ghana soon,” he states at the beginning of his memo. “Certain key military and police figures have been planning one for some time, and Ghana’s deteriorating economic condition may provide the spark. The plotters are keeping us briefed, and State thinks we’re more on the inside than the British. While we’re not directly involved (I’m told), we and other Western countries (including France) have been helping to set up the situation by ignoring Nkrumah’s pleas for economic aid. The new OCAM (Francophone) group’s refusal to attend any OAU meeting in Accra (because of Nkrumah’s plotting) will further isolate him. All in all, looks good.” [National Security Council, 5/27/1965; SeeingBlack (.com), 6/7/2002]

Entity Tags: Robert W. Komer, McGeorge Bundy

Timeline Tags: US-Ghana (1952-1966)

The Ghanaian army stages a coup, overthrowing the pan-Africanist government of Kwame Nkrumah—who is in Burma at the start of a grand tour aimed at resolving the conflict in Vietnam. [Stockwell, 1978; BBC, 11/4/1997; Yergin and Stanislaw, 1998] A weak economy (see 1961-Early 1966), exacerbated by the deliberate actions of Western governments to destabilize the country (see (3.00pm-3:30pm) March 11, 1965) (see March 27, 1965), had severely damaged the president’s popularity among the masses. Additionally, the military was upset with Nkrumah’s cuts to the defense budget and the declining real wage of army officers. The coup itself was supported by the CIA, which had maintained intimate contact with the plotters for at least a year (see (3.00pm-3:30pm) March 11, 1965). The CIA’s involvement in the plot was so close that it managed to recover some classified Soviet military equipment as the coup was happening. [Stockwell, 1978; New Yorker, 1980; SeeingBlack (.com), 6/7/2002 Sources: Howard T. Banes]

Entity Tags: Howard T. Banes, Kwame Nkrumah

Timeline Tags: US-Ghana (1952-1966)

Commenting on the recent coup in Ghana (see February 24, 1966), Robert W. Komer, a special assistant to the president, says in a memo to President Johnson that the overthrow of the Nkrumah government was “another example of a fortuitous windfall.” He gloats over the win noting that “Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African” and that the “new military regime is almost pathetically pro-Western.” He then goes on to emphasize that the US should “follow through skillfully and consolidate such successes.” He explains: “A few thousand tons of surplus wheat or rice, given now when the new regimes are quite uncertain as to their future relations with us, could have a psychological significance out of all proportion to the cost of the gesture. I am not arguing for lavish gifts to these regimes—indeed, giving them a little only whets their appetites, and enables us to use the prospect of more as leverage.” [National Security Council, 3/12/1966; SeeingBlack (.com), 6/7/2002]

Entity Tags: Robert W. Komer, Lyndon B. Johnson

Timeline Tags: US-Ghana (1952-1966)

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