Ghana Table of Contents

Leaders of the 1966 military coup, including army officers Colonel E.K. Kotoka, Major A.A. Afrifa, Lieutenant General (retired) J.A. Ankra, and Police Inspector General J.W.K. Harlley, justified their takeover by charging that the CPP administration was abusive and corrupt. They were equally disturbed by Nkrumah's aggressive involvement in African politics and by his belief that Ghanaian troops could be sent anywhere in Africa to fight so-called liberation wars, even though they never did so. Above all, they pointed to the absence of democratic practices in the nation--a situation they claimed had affected the morale of the armed forces. According to General Kotoka, the military coup of 1966 was a nationalist one because it liberated the nation from Nkrumah's dictatorship--a declaration that was supported by Alex QuaisonSackey , Nkrumah's former minister of foreign affairs.

Despite the vast political changes that were brought about by the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah, many problems remained. For example, the underlying ethnic and regional divisions within the society had to be addressed. The apparent spirit of national unity that seemed to have developed during the Nkrumah years turned out to have resulted in part from his coercive powers as well as from his charisma. As a consequence, successive new leaders faced the problem of forging disparate personal, ethnic, and sectional interests into a real Ghanaian nation. The economic burdens, aggravated by what some described as past extravagance, would cripple each future government's ability to foster the rapid development needed to satisfy even minimal popular demands for a better life. The fear of a resurgence of an overly strong central authority would continue to dominate the constitutional agenda and to pervade the thinking of many educated, politically-minded Ghanaians. Others, however, felt that a strong government was essential.

A considerable portion of the population had become convinced that effective, honest government was incompatible with competitive political parties. Many Ghanaians remained committed to nonpolitical leadership for the nation, even in the form of military rule. The problems of the Busia administration, the country's first elected government after Nkrumah's fall, illustrated the problems Ghana would continue to face.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress