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General News of Monday, 13 January 2003

Source: Accra Mail

1966 Coup: Lord Commey Sets Record Straight

The National Organizer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Lord Oblitey Commey, has said that the party has never endorsed the violent overthrow of a government through a military coup d'etat and that the party would never support such an idea either in Ghana or in any part of the world.

"For us as a party, there can be no compromise on our position against a coup d'etat because we have stated categorically that the NPP comes from a tradition that cherishes the values of liberal democracy which is based on the rule of law and the culture of good governance."

Mr. Commey was speaking in an interview with ADM last Friday, in reaction to a statement attributed to the NPP Chairman, Mr. Harona Esseku that seemed to justify the 1966 military coup which overthrew the Convention Peoples Party Government led by Ghana's first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The 1966 coup, which was led by the late General Emmanuel K. Kotoka, set the stage for subsequent military takeovers of government in Ghana.

Mr. Esseku is reported to have said in his speech at the just ended Natioanl Delegates Conference and Special Delegates Congress of the party in Sekondi-Takoradi that the 1966 coup was justified because it succeeded in removing the one-party-state established by Dr. Nkrumah. Mr. Esseku, who was a Minister of State in the Busia Administration, is again reported to have said that Dr. Nkrumah's government amounted to "democratic dictatorship" imposed on the people against their will.

The NPP Organizer said the remarks of Mr. Esseku could not be taken as the position of the party just because he is the chairman of the party. "There was no prior discussion or consultation on that speech. It therefore gives the right to members of the National Executive Committee to distance themselves from its contents if it is found to be in bad taste". President Kufuor also emphasized this point in his acceptance speech at Sekondi when he said, "the NPP is made up of independent thinkers".

For this reason, Mr. Commey explained that in spite of his leadership position, Mr. Esseku is entitled to his view as an individual member of the NPP. Mr. Esseku himself admitted the statement attributed to him on an Accra based radio station, Joy FM, in an interview last Wednesday. He stated that he was indeed expressing his "personal view on that particular incident in Ghana's political history which may not reflect the party's position".

Mr. Commey said coup d'etats deny individuals their freedoms and that the Danquah-Busia tradition is backed by the fundamental principles of individual rights, freedom and liberty. He said the NPP believes that no matter how bad a government becomes, the only way forward is to allow the people to use constitutional means of making a choice through the ballot box.