Today, February 24, 2016 marks exactly 50 years of the coup that overthrew Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
On this day 1966, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America is said to have masterminded the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah’s government according to a school of thought.
Why did the CIA do this?
Because the CIA saw President Nkrumah as an ally of Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
Another school of thought also says, the Ghanaian Army and police overthrew Nkrumah's regime. Nkrumah and all his ministers were dismissed.
On February 24, 1966, the CPP and National Assembly were dissolved, and the constitution was suspended. The new regime cited Nkrumah's flagrant abuse of individual rights and liberties, his regime's corrupt, oppressive, and dictatorial practices, and the rapidly deteriorating economy as the principal reasons for its action.
Who was Nkrumah?
Dr Kwame Nkrumah was a genuine Leader of diverse traits. Nkrumah was an embodiment of peoples' hope; trust and mistrust, a genuine person and or cunning person. He gave to the world a sense of self-awareness; a spirit that it was possible to achieve greatness against overwhelming odds. However, Nkrumah is said to lack the ability and the will to tolerate opposing views; this critics say was his main handicap.
Some of the key figures who led the coup were Col E.K. Kotoka, Major A.A. Afrifa and Inspector General of Police J.W.K. Harlley.
Again, it is said that by the time when Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown on 24th February 1966, he had assembled a an international network of progressives around him across the globe and was also in the forefront of the progressive movement.
In the early morning hours of 24 February, 1966, Ghana's armed forces, with the cooperation of the National Police, took over government in "Operation Cold Chop", a well organized coup d'etat. The first announcement was made from Radio Ghana.
Nkrumah was removed from power while he was on a peace mission to Hanoi at the invitation of premier Ho Chi Minh. The Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Major General Aferi was also in Addis Ababa on OAU business.
At 1 p.m. that afternoon, a spokesman on Accra radio justified the coup d’etat by saying that Nkrumah had "been running the country as his own personal property".
The result, according to the announcer, was "gross economic mismanagement" from which "all of us have suffered in one way or another".
Inflation and unemployment had taken hold of the economy - "the country is on the verge of national bankruptcy". The broadcast ended with an appeal to the civil service: "All principal secretaries, heads of department and other members of the public service are asked to stay at their posts".
There was spontaneous jubilation of the people around the country that showed their total support for the coup makers. Noisy demonstrations, throwing of white powder (the traditional sign of victory in battle) and huge placards with slogans such as ’No More Animal Farm’ ran through the streets of Accra, while the state-owned press came out with banner headlines like, "Tyranny is dead ... democracy is reborn!"
And so the 1964 Constitution was abolished and the new Junta, as declared by Kotoka, was to "govern by decrees which shall have the force of law until a new constitution was promulgated".