Ghana dispatch: defence chief assures country that armed forces are ‘not interested’ in military coups


Lana is a JURIST staff reporter in Ghana and has just graduated from the GIMPA Faculty of Law (Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration). She sends this dispatch out of Accra. In an interview last Friday, the 15th of September, Ghana’s Armed Forces assured Ghana in an address to the Ghana Journalists Association leadership that there would be no coups d’etats. Vice Admiral Seth Amoama said that Ghanaians can be assured that Ghana Armed Forces are not interested in coups or other similar events. This is important because there have been coups recently in Ghana’s West African neighbors, including Burkina Faso Niger Mali and Guinea. Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, President of Ghana said, in July at the Republic of Liberia’s 147th Independence Day Celebration, that coups must be stopped. He said that coups are back in Africa in all of their manifestations and forms, and must be condemned as they undermine collective efforts to rid Africa of instabilities and unconstitutional government changes. This speech was given against the background of recent events where individuals wearing military fatigues claimed that they had taken control in Niger shortly after it emerged that members of the Presidential Guard had seized President Mohamed Bazoum. In a later development, Ghana’s National Democratic Congress, a prominent party opposing the incumbent president, issued a statement through its National Chairman on the 4


of September 2023, expressing concern about the current situation in Ghana. The National Democratic Congress (NDC), a prominent opposition party to the incumbent President, made a statement on 4

th September 2023 through their National Chairman raising concerns about the situation in Ghana. Few days later, however, the National Chairperson clarified that his party would not support or endorse any military adventurers who attempted to stage a country-wide coup d’etat. The resurgence of coups d’etats across West Africa is a topic of national conversation. Joynews in Ghana conducted a segment on ‘PM Express,’ Wednesday, September 6 with Yaw Nsarkoh. He is a former executive vice president of Unilever. Nsarkoh discussed the perception of coups during this discussion. Nsarkoh questioned, “Why do we perceive things today in such a binary way? Why are we forced to choose between unaccountable military or corrupt civilians?” He also noted that while some countries have many challenges, such as corruption, they never resort to coups. He said coups are “

an approach intellectually lax for those who do not want to engage in necessary political work.”Ghana has had several military interventions since 1957 when it gained independence from British colonial control. These have shaped the country’s political history. Ghana had six military governments and five transient written constitutions between 1960 and 1992. This whole issue is very personal. The first coup of Ghana’s modern history took place on February 24, 1966, when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the Conventions People’s Party were removed from power by the National Liberation Council. Dr. Nkrumah had been on a peace-mission in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. Ho Chi Minh had invited him to assist in the resolution of the Vietnam War. On state radio, it was announced that “Kwame has been overthrown and the myth around him is broken”.

Perhaps the outspoken and powerful Dr. Nkrumah had become somewhat of a god, so close to God that some people believed he had to be toppled

. In his book[is],

‘Dark Days in Ghana’, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah afterward wrote that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aided the Ghana Army at the time to overthrow his government. Nkrumah’s alleged allyship with the Soviet Union was widely believed during the Cold War. However, this claim has not been proven. In Dr. Nkrumah’s time, the coup makers justified their revolt by claiming that his government had abused power and committed corruption. The Nkrumah administration promulgated restrictive laws, such as the Preventive Detention Act of 1958. This law allowed individuals to be detained without trial for up one year on grounds of public safety or national security. From my perspective, neither internal clamor nor international intrusion can justify any unlawful political seizure. Ghanaian citizens–statesmen and judges, soldiers and civilians- were martyred so that I would be free to write for JURIST, without fearing my own life or the lives of my family. The opinions expressed in JURIST Dispatches do not reflect those of JURIST editors, staff or donors. They are the sole views of our correspondents on the ground.