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Ghana: One Party, Four Walls
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General News of Friday, 14 February 1964

Source: Ghanaian Times

Ghana: One Party, Four Walls

Friday, Feb. 14, 1964

As expected, Ghana voted overwhelmingly to convert to a one-party "socialist" state. Also as expected, the final returns were no sooner in last week than Dictator Kwame Nkrumah embarked on a fresh purge of his opposition and a stepped-up campaign against the U.S.

Nkrumah's steamroller tactics to assure a yes vote for his constitutional referendum stood out as a landmark of sorts in African electoral history. Technically, citizens could vote yes or no on whether to make Nkrumah's Convention Peoples Party the nation's only legal party. But in hundreds of places the "no" boxes were sealed up or nonexistent. All the ballots carried the voter's registration number, which would make it easy to see who voted no. In Accra's Ward 22, the registration was 1,834, yet the official count showed a "yes" total of 5,791. The overall announced results: 2,682,095 yes to 2,480 no, for a 99.9% victory sweep.

In a radio speech afterward, Nkrumah vowed that the "evil men and neocolonialist agents amongst us shall be smoked out." Two days later a mob shouting "Ghana yes, Yankee no!" descended on the American embassy in Accra, hauled down the Stars and Stripes. A plucky Negro attache, Emerson Player, 31, of Denver, fought his way through the crowd, ran the flag up again. The government denied that it had anything to do with the incident and expressed "regret," but the assault was obviously officially engineered. The mob was led by a C.P.P. sound truck, and the local Tass correspondent arrived 25 minutes early to get a better view.

Then began a move on the universities, whose students have protested Nkrumah's high-handed tactics. The regime ordered the expulsion of six University of Ghana faculty members, four of them Americans, after 2,000 demonstrators stormed the university shouting "Down with bookism!" The Americans were accused of "activities prejudicial to the security of the state." One of them, Negro Professor Louis Schuster, 56, was ordered to leave Ghana on three hours' notice. "We were just pawns in a chess game," he declared. "It was an organized campaign against the United States."

With Washington's patience wearing thin (U.S. aid to Ghana so far: $170 million), the State Department registered its formal protest, called home U.S. Ambassador William P. Mahoney Jr. for consultations. Nkrumah would not even deign to receive the protest. Ever since the fifth attempt on his life last month, he has not dared to show his face in public; he presumably will not even return to his office until workers complete a fourth wall that he has ordered built around Flagstaff House.

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