Today In History: Ghana’s First Coup
Today in History exactly 54 years ago, President Kwame Nkrumah was unconstitutionally ousted from office through a military coup. The Coup was launched by the National Liberation council (NLC) with the code name “Operation Cold Chop,” on February 24th, 1966 backed by the C.I.A.
On February 21, 1966, President Kwame Nkrumah left Ghana for Hanoi, the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam, at the invitation of President Ho Chi Minh to resolve the Vietnam War.
Ghana was left under the control of a three-man Presidential Commission.
On his entourage were his foreign affairs minister, Alex Quayson Sackey his Trade and Industry Minister Ambassador Kwesi Armah and among others.
The coup de’tat
In the early hours of February 24, 1966, a group of officers and men of the Ghana Army,
led by Lt. C B (later General) Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka and Major (later General) Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, with the active support from the Police in an operation code named
“Operation Cold Chop” removed President Kwame Nkrumah from power while he was on a peace mission to Hanoi at the invitation of premier Ho Chi Minh.
At six o’clock that morning Colonel Kotoka announced on Radio Ghana
“Fellow citizens of Ghana, I have come to inform you that the Military, in co-operation with the Ghana Police, have taken over the government of Ghana today. The myth surrounding Nkrumah has been broken. Parliament has been dissolved and Kwame Nkrumah has been dismissed from office. All ministers are also dismissed from office. The C.P.P. is disbanded with effect from now. It will be illegal for any person to belong to it.”
President Kwame Nkrumah was told by the Chinese Ambassador over there that he has been overthrown in a coup de’tat.
Kwame Nkrumah could not believe it that he has been overthrown.
After the coup de’tat code named “Operation Cold Chop” in Ghana, Sekou Toure came to the rescue of Kwame Nkrumah, the deposed of Ghana and invited him to Guinea where he arrived on March 2, 1966, together with his bodyguards and a few civil servants who had remained with him.
After the coup de’tat
President Kwame Nkrumah was received by Toure as Head of state, and given a 21 gun salute.
At the airport, Toure declared that Kwame Nkrumah would be with him as “the head of state of and secretary-general of the Guinean Democratic Party”.
In Nkrumah’s book, ‘Dark Days in Ghana’, Nkrumah revealed that the coup de’tat was the handiwork of the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A) of United States of America.
The leaders of the coup that overthrew Nkrumah immediately opened the country’s borders and its prison gates to allow the return from exile or release from preventive detention of all opponents of President Kwame Nkrumah.
The National Liberation Council (NLC), composed of four army officers and four police officers, assumed executive power.
It appointed a cabinet of civil servants and promised to restore democratic government as quickly as possible.