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Ghana



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US-educated Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is elected prime minister of the Gold Coast (the British Colony that later becomes Ghana). (BBC 11/4/1997; Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004)

The Gold Coast and the British Togoland trust territory in Western Africa become the first black colonies in Africa to win their independence. The two British colonies become the independent state of Ghana with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as the country’s first prime minister. In leading the colonies to independence, Dr. Nkrumah becomes an international symbol of freedom, spearheading the struggle for independence in much of sub-Saharan Africa. (BBC 11/4/1997; Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004) Celebrating the country’s independence, Nkrumah declares, “We are going to see that we create our own African personality and identity…. We again rededicate ourselves in the struggle to emancipate other countries in Africa; For our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent.” (BBC 11/4/1997)

The Ghanaian government, headed by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, legalizes imprisonment without trial for people it considers security risks. (BBC 11/4/1997; Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004)

The Ghanaian government, headed by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, embarks on numerous infrastructure projects. The government begins building and improving roads, the rail system, schools, hospitals and industrial facilities. Nkrumah’s popularity increases immensely as economic conditions begin to improve. (Boafo-Arthur 1999; Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004)

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah makes Ghana a republic with himself as president. Under Ghana’s new constitution, the president has wide legislative and executive powers. (BBC 11/4/1997; Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004)

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)

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)

Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah becomes increasingly authoritarian, declaring himself president for life and banning opposition parties. (BBC 11/4/1997; Yergin and Stanislaw 1998; Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004)

Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah rejects IMF and World Bank recommendations to implement a economic development strategy based on non-inflationary borrowing and reduced government spending. Ghana’s refusal to implement these reforms makes it ineligible to receive loans from the two institutions. Nkrumah continues with a policy aimed at diversifying the Ghanaian economy through import substituting industrialization (ISI). (BBC 11/4/1997; Boafo-Arthur 1999; Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004)

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; Lee 6/7/2002)

In a public speech, Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah lashes out against US support for Moise Tshombe in the Congo and blames the US government and financiers for many of the problems in Africa. (US Department of State 4/2/1965; Lee 6/7/2002)

In a telegraph to the US Department of State, US ambassador to Ghana William P. Mahoney recounts a meeting he had that morning with President Kwame Nkrumah. He says he told the president that the US government resented the anti-US statements he had made in his March 22 speech (see (3.00pm-3:30pm) March 22, 1965), in which he had laid blame on the US for many of Africa’s problems. “I said I would never have believed that [a] man of his sophistication and refinement would use language like that against my country, and it shock[ed] [me] to hear him do so.” Mahoney says that Nkrumah conceded that the rhetoric in his speech was “loaded and slanted throughout,” but insisted that “he had special purpose in mind.” After Mahoney further criticized Nkrumah’s speech, defending US policy in Africa, he saw that the president was crying. “I looked up and I saw he was crying. With difficulty he said I could not understand [the] ordeal he had been through during [the] last month. [He [r]ecalled that there had been seven attempts on his life…]” In comments listed at the end of his telegraph, Mahoney says that Nkrumah seems “convinced as ever [that the] US is out to get him” and “still suspects US involvement” in the recent assassination attempts. He explains that Nkrumah appears to be a “badly frightened man” whose “emotional resources seem [to] be running out” and predicts that there will be “more hysterical outbursts” from Nkrumah against the US. (US Department of State 4/2/1965; Lee 6/7/2002)

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; Lee 6/7/2002)

Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah publishes his famous work, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, in which he predicts, quite accurately, that Africa will suffer persistent meddling by the intelligence agencies of foreign governments, particularly the CIA and KGB. He accuses American intelligence of being behind several of the crises being experienced by the Third World. His book introduces the term “neo-colonialism,” whereby a state is theoretically independent, but in reality, has its economic system and political policies directed from outside. He again calls on Africans to be united against imperialism and global capitalism. (Nkrumah 1996; BBC 11/4/1997; Ismi 10/2002) The US government quickly informs Nkrumah that it opposes the ideas presented in the book and cancels $35 million in aid to Ghana. (Ismi 10/2002)

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; Hersh 1980; Lee 6/7/2002 Sources: Howard T. Banes)

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; Lee 6/7/2002)

The IMF and World Bank begin working with the military junta in Ghana, providing the country with standby credit. Western countries agree to postpone Ghana’s debt obligations until December when an IMF-sponsored meeting is scheduled to convene (see December 1966). (Boafo-Arthur 1999)

The military government of Ghana meets with the Paris Club of Western governments and forges a debt rescheduling agreement, which defers Ghana’s debt obligations between June 1966 and December 1968 to the period 1971-1979. (Boafo-Arthur 1999)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is readying a vote on whether to recommend that the UN Security Council impose sanctions against Iran over that nation’s nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration, as part of its campaign to pressure the IAEA to vote for such a recommendation, briefs the president of Ghana, along with officials from Argentina, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Nigeria, all Security Council members, on its findings on Iran’s nuclear program derived from a laptop computer that contains evidence of Iran’s nuclear experiments (see Summer 2004). The briefing, actually a slide show, contains excerpts of the documents contained on the laptop. The US also presents a “white paper” containing summaries of the findings from the documents to another group of nations; the white paper contains no classified evidence and no mention of Iran’s purported attempts to develop a missile capable of deploying a nuclear weapon, but instead uses commercial satellite photos and economic analysis to argue that Iran has no need for nuclear power and has long hidden its nuclear ambitions. The white paper was prepared by analysts from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on behalf of the State Department. The paper does contain extensive details about some of Iran’s previously hidden nuclear sites. Most foreign officials are unimpressed. “Yeah, so what?” says one European expert who heard the briefing. “How do you know what you’re shown on a slide is true given past experience?” Nevertheless, the presentation is effective; on September 24, the IAEA votes 22 to 1 to adopt a resolution against Iran, with 12 countries, including China and Russia, abstaining. The resolution cites Iran for “a long history of concealment and deception” and its repeated failure to live up to its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which it signed in 1970. The resolution says Iran may now be considered for sanctions by the Security Council. Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, denounces the resolution as “illegal and illogical” and the result of a “planned scenario determined by the United States.” The IAEA will decide whether to send the recommendation to the Security Council in November. It is by no means certain that the Council will adopt the recommendation, as two countries rotating onto the Council, Cuba and Syria, are almost certain to refuse to bow to US pressure. And the IAEA itself is not wholly convinced of the accuracy of the documents, given the US’s refusal to allow the agency to examine the documents. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei says he is bound to “follow due process, which means I need to establish the veracity, consistency, and authenticity of any intelligence, and share it with the country of concern.” In this case, ElBaradei says, “That has not happened.” (Broad and Sanger 11/13/2005)


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