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1964-1968, Volume XXIV

Department of State

250. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Williams) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman)/1/

Washington, April 9, 1964.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL GHANA-US. Confidential. Drafted by Dorros and cleared by AID/AFR/CA Director Richard M. Cashin.

Action Program for Ghana

As a result of your visit to Accra we have developed the following lines of action to enable us to pursue a meaningful dialogue with Nkrumah and keep continuing pressure on him to maintain his relations with the US on a tolerable basis:

(1) We should vigorously pursue our program of visits to Ghana by Presidential emissaries and other important visitors. In particular, we should urge Edgar Kaiser to visit Ghana at least on a quarterly basis. A list of other possible visitors is attached (Tab A)./2/ We shall consult with the British in the next few days to discuss what contribution they may be able to make in this area./3/

/2/Not printed. Harriman approved most of the suggested visitors, questioned others, and noted "Don't overdo number of visitors."

/3/Harriman initialed his approval of points 1-4 on April 9.

(2) We should endeavor to have some reference to the US attitude toward nonalignment inserted in a speech by President Johnson.

(3) We should remain alert to suitable occasions to develop a personal rapport between President Johnson and Nkrumah through exchanges of correspondence or other means.

(4) The main object of Ambassador Mahoney's bi-weekly talks with Nkrumah should be to hold Nkrumah to his undertaking to accept the responsibility for maintaining reasonable relations with the US. Nkrumah should be reminded as often as necessary of his agreement that any complaints he has would be discussed with Ambassador Mahoney to avoid misunderstandings and recriminations in the press and radio. We would also emphasize the role of private investment in Ghana's economic progress and hold him to his commitment to you to state publicly that foreign investment is welcome to come and stay in Ghana indefinitely.

(5) We should respond to a Ghanaian approach for further financing under the Seven-Year Development Plan as follows:

(a) The US is already contributing heavily to projects included in the plan and is committed to provide 21% of the total external financing (public and private) called for under the plan. This commitment is almost as much as we have committed to Nigeria, a country many times as large as Ghana. We consider it preferable to see how matters go with our present undertakings before contemplating additional contributions;

(b) We are continuing other forms of assistance to Ghana including AID development grants, PL-480 programs, and Peace Corps volunteers; and

(c) The US has no objection or desire to impede any Ghanaian request for aid to the IBRD or to other Western countries in approaches Ghana may make either bilaterally or multilaterally. We should endeavor to disabuse Ghana of the notion that the US can significantly influence the IBRD or individual Western donors. (A telegram along these lines has been sent to Ambassador Mahoney for his views--Deptel 607 to Accra, Tab B.)/4/

/4/Harriman approved point 5, but in point 5 (a), he crossed out "almost as much as we have committed to Nigeria" and wrote in the margin, "As Nigeria is a red flag, perhaps 'has higher per capita than any African country.'" In a different handwriting, under his notation, is the word "No," and the notation "Liberia has higher per capita." Harriman also wrote the notes "Private capital?" next to point 5 (b) and "negative language" next to point 5 (c).

(6) As regards the Volta-Valco projects, we should proceed to implement our commitments as expeditiously as progress on these projects permits./5/

/5/Harriman left point 6 blank, and noted "This requires Presidential approval of my recommendation."

251. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Washington, March 11, 1965, 3-3:30 p.m.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, DCI Memo for the Record, 01 Mar.-28 Apr. 65. Secret. Drafted on March 12 by [text not declassified] Deputy Chief of the Africa Division in the CIA Directorate of Plans. Filed with a covering memorandum from Africa Division Chief [text not declassified] to McCone. The time is taken from a CIA transcript of the conversation. (Ibid.) The meeting took place in McCone's office.


The Director of Central Intelligence
Ambassador to Ghana, William P. Mahoney
Deputy Chief, Africa Division, [name not declassified]

1. Coup d'Etat Plot, Ghana: While Ambassador Mahoney felt that popular opinion was running strongly against Nkrumah and the economy of the country was in a precarious state he was not convinced that the coup d'etat, now being planned by Acting Police Commissioner Harlley and Generals Otu and Ankrah, would necessarily take place. He did feel, however, that one way or another Nkrumah would be out within a year. [3-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] referred to a recent report which mentioned that the top coup conspirators were scheduled to meet on 10 March at which time they would determine the timing of the coup; however, because of a tendency to procrastinate, any specific date they set should be accepted with reservations. In response to the Director's queries as to who would most likely succeed Nkrumah in the event of a coup, Ambassador Mahoney stated that initially, at least, a military junta would take over, headed perhaps by Acting Police Commissioner Harlley.

2. Ghana Economics: Ambassador Mahoney gave as his strong opinion that the United States should not acquiesce in Nkrumah's forthcoming request for financial assistance. Not only would a refusal be justified in the interests of further weakening Nkrumah but in Ambassador Mahoney's opinion, such a refusal would make a desirable impression on other countries in Africa. He felt, however, that the United States should maintain present aid levels and retain the Peace Corps program. Ambassador Mahoney felt that there was little chance that either the Chinese Communists or the Soviets would in adequate measure come to Nkrumah's financial rescue. He also felt the British would continue to adopt a "hard nose" attitude toward providing further assistance to Ghana. [Ambassador Mahoney described Nkrumah as being emotionally and ideologically pro-Chinese Communist, although realistically he recognized the Soviets were in a better position to provide him economic assistance.]/2/ Ambassador Mahoney described how Nkrumah was completely, albeit, mistakenly, confident that both the U.S. and the U.K. would come to his financial rescue. Ambassador Mahoney said that he hoped to have a few minutes conversation with President Johnson on March 12/3/ at which time he wanted to impress upon the President the wisdom of refusing Nkrumah's request for further aid. Commenting on the Volta Dam and Kaiser Aluminum projects in Ghana, Ambassador Mahoney felt that the original decision to undertake and finance these projects had been sound; they provided lasting assistance to the Ghanaian people which will endure and be remembered long after Nkrumah goes. In response to the Director's comment that the dam had been completed six months ahead of schedule, Ambassador Mahoney stated that it also had been completed at a cost less than originally estimated.

/2/Brackets in the source text.

/3/Mahoney met with the President briefly on March 12 as one of a group of five Ambassadors posted to African countries. No record has been found of the meeting, except that it is noted in the President's Daily Diary. (Johnson Library)

3. [4-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

4. Congo: The Director made reference to the apparent improvement in Tshombe's position in Africa, particularly as evidenced by his showing at the recent OAU meeting in Nairobi. Ambassador Mahoney agreed and added that regardless of the radical African sentiment against Tshombe, latter is an extremely able person and perhaps the only one who can keep the Congo together.

[name not declassified]
Deputy Chief, Africa Division

252. Telegram From the Embassy in Ghana to the Department of State/1/

Accra, April 2, 1965, 6 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL GHANA-US. Confidential.

879. Saw Nkrumah for 50 minutes this morning. President began by asking when wife and family would be returning. I said not sure, my future little uncertain, may not be here long enough warrant their return.

Remarked that unfortunately during my absence relationship between US and Ghana had deteriorated to marked extent. Nkrumah agreed. By way illustration, I said I was with President Johnson when cable brought in to him describing March 12 attack on library and Embassy. President Johnson was upset; read cable to me. I said USG also very disturbed by unfriendly attack on US in March 22 speech. Told him that whereas Ghana press had regularly attacked US on Congo, I shocked he personally would say what he did about US.

I said I would like read some particularly offensive passages. Nkrumah said this not necessary since he knew what in it, but I persisted. Pointed out it grossly unfair to identify US with long Belgium history in Congo. US has been in Congo only since 1960 and to help Congolese. Speech loaded and slanted throughout. Nkrumah admitted as much, but said he had special purpose in mind. He concerned about seriousness situation in Congo and felt speech had to be strong. I replied this no reason not be fair: why criticize everything we do? At this point I read passages about no cruelty being spared in Congo, about identification of US with Rhodesia and South Africa, and about threat to Africa posed by economic imperialism, specifically naming American financiers. I asked Nkrumah if he referring to US presence in Ghana, when he said all African countries threatened by economic imperialism. Nkrumah insisted not at all, only to situation elsewhere Africa.

Returning to Congo I said we did not create Tshombe; we surprised as anyone else he returned. Noted also that Governor Williams beseeched Tshombe to seek help from other Africans.

What particularly deplorable in speech, I said, was use terms "racist" and "hatred" in reference US, and his use "fascist" as epithet. I noted Ghanaian press so bad I no longer interested in talking about it, but reminded him of conversation I had with him year ago when he said he had admonished press against using offensive epithets. Now he personally talking that way. I said I would never have believed that man of his sophistication and refinement would use language like that against my country, and it shock to hear him do so. Said he knew we were backing self-determination for Africans and making serious effort solve race problem at home.

At this point Nkrumah, who had been holding face in hands, looked up and I saw he was crying. With difficulty he said I could not understand ordeal he had been through during last month. Recalled that there had been seven attempts on his life. Also that he upset with problem executions. ("You know why I commuted the sentences?" I replied I assumed it for humanitarian reasons. "It was for Africa, for Africa.") Asserted he would not have made speech had it not been for what he had been going through.

I said I appreciated strain, but this no reason make hostile speech against country trying help. I pointed out that speech had been read throughout world. Damage had been done our relations we might not be able repair. Nkrumah interjected it all because of Tshombe. Said he had been thinking of sending mission to President Johnson to ask US withdraw support from Tshombe. I remarked that if he had made this point in speech, it would have been understandable. But not accusing US of every crime in Africa.

Also told him we resented reference to Congo developing into another Vietnam. Pointed out he and his press were constantly taking ChiCom line on Vietnam, and US sick of this. Situation not so simple as he had made out, to which he agreed.

I then spent few minutes going over main points in Vietnam white paper, copy of which I handed him. Nkrumah suggested I give Botsio copy.

In apparent effort say something nice about US (and perhaps get off subject Vietnam), Nkrumah said, "You know you have great country--the only one that can lead world to peace." When I commented that one would not guess this from what he said, he replied, "But it is what I believe. You can work with Russians." I noted that we trying maintain dialogue with USSR, but ChiComs made working with Russians more difficult. Nkrumah agreed, called ChiComs "mysterious" and accused them of being dogmatic and difficult.

During conversation, Nkrumah made brief references to Bamako and Nouakchott Conference. Said he had gone to Bamako because Africa falling apart so fast, especially on Congo; something had be done by so-called radicals to stabilize situation. On Nouakchott Nkrumah noted that he had letter from Daddah, in which Mauritanian President named certain powers who were behind conference. (He mentioned in passing that he had also received letter from Adoula.) I said I did not pretend have knowledge of all that went on Nouakchott, but US not force behind it as some claiming. Then remarked we sick of being made whipping boy by certain African states because of their own difficulties, largely brought on by themselves. Said we had about enough of it.

Meeting concluded with Nkrumah, eyes still moist, making few warm remarks about our personal relationship.


1. While Nkrumah made uncomfortable by tough talk, in end there will probably be very little to show for today's effort. Nkrumah may be slowed down a little, as before, by what I said, but not for long.

2. While Nkrumah apparently continues have personal affection for me, he seems as convinced as ever US is out to get him. From what he said about assassination attempts in March, it appears he still suspects US involvement.

3. Nkrumah gave me impression of being badly frightened man. His emotional resources seem be running out. As pressures increase, we may expect more hysterical outbursts, many directed against US.

4. Uncomplimentary remarks about ChiComs were obvious attempt divert US from idea he pro-ChiCom. He protested too much. Am convinced he emotionally tends be strongly pro-ChiCom.


253. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/

Washington, May 27, 1965.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Ghana, Vol. II, Cables, 3/64-2/66. Secret.


FYI, we may have a pro-Western coup in Ghana soon. Certain key military and police figures have been planning one for some time, and Ghana's deteriorating economic condition may provide the spark.

The plotters are keeping us briefed, and State thinks we're more on the inside than the British. While we're not directly involved (I'm told), we and other Western countries (including France) have been helping to set up the situation by ignoring Nkrumah's pleas for economic aid. The new OCAM (Francophone) group's refusal to attend any OAU meeting in Accra (because of Nkrumah's plotting) will further isolate him. All in all, looks good.


254. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Washington, August 6, 1965, 4:45-5 p.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Ghana, Vol. II, Cables, 3/64-2/66. Confidential. Drafted by McGeorge Bundy on August 11.

The President, Foreign Minister Quaison-Sackey, the Ambassador of Ghana, Mr. Bill Moyers, Mr. McGeorge Bundy

1. The President greeted the Foreign Minister warmly, and took him and the Ambassador into his small office. He opened the conversation by a friendly reference to the Ambassador's recent trip to Lake Jackson in Texas. The Ambassador reported that he had enjoyed the trip very much and that he looked forward to an opportunity to show this same work on desalinization to the Minister of his Government mainly concerned with these matters. The President told the Foreign Minister that the Ambassador was going to be regarded as a citizen of Texas, and then turned to the Foreign Minister attentively and expectantly.

2. The Foreign Minister said that he brought the President the very warm greetings of President Nkrumah, and a letter./2/ He handed the letter to the President. The President joked about the large number of red seals on the letter, produced a pocketknife, opened it carefully, and read it aloud.

/2/The text of Nkrumah's message to Johnson was sent in telegram 72 to Accra, August 7. (Ibid., Nkrumah Correspondence, 1/64-2/66) A copy is also in Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S.

3. As soon as he had finished reading the letter, the President gave the Foreign Minister a categorical assurance that no U.S. military operations would interfere with any visit to Hanoi by President Nkrumah. The President said (1) we are not bombing Hanoi, (2) we have not intensified our bombing of North Vietnam, (3) the President will be in no danger, and (4) who is he kidding? (probably referring to Ho, not Nkrumah). The President continued that a peaceful settlement would never be blocked because of any action of the United States. If the aggression ceases, our resistance ceases. Nobody wanted peace more than the United States, and if the efforts of Ghana could get the aggressors to stop, we would stop resistance to the aggression. The President repeated that no one needed to be worried about getting hurt in Hanoi--there was no danger in a visit to Hanoi in search of peace.

4. The President told the Ghanaians that they knew what he thought--that he thought all nations should be happy together--that the world should look forward to a time of peace and progress. The President noted that this had been a great day for progress in the United States, with the signing of the voting rights bill, and his guests enthusiastically agreed, saying that they had seen the ceremony on television and been greatly moved by it.

5. The Foreign Minister said that the reason for the letter was the report of the Ghanaian mission to Hanoi which had experienced some difficulties. It had been given military escort from Peking to Hanoi in a flight which gave rise to some concern. It had heard the sounds of guns on many occasions in Hanoi, and it had advised President Nkrumah not to go to Hanoi at this time. But President Nkrumah wanted very much to go, and he therefore asked whether bombings could not cease for three or four days. Then perhaps he could work for a cessation of all hostilities during peace talks. President Nkrumah felt that he must do all he could for a cease-fire, and this was the explanation for what the Foreign Minister had come to call "the fever-heat diplomacy" of his sudden visit to Washington.

6. The President replied that he was happy to see the Foreign Minister and repeated that the Foreign Minister should return to his President and say (1) that we have not bombed Hanoi and that he need not be frightened, and (2) that if he can get the aggression stopped, there will be peace overnight.

7. The President repeated again that no one wanted peace more than the United States, but he said that no one would be allowed to gobble up little countries. We would stay there and ensure the right of self-determination. We would not run out of there. But the President said once again that President Nkrumah need not be concerned by the bombs that had never fallen on Hanoi.

8. The Foreign Minister raised very gently the question whether the President would wish to receive President Nkrumah either before or after his visit to Hanoi. The President said he thought we should wait until after President Nkrumah got back from Hanoi, and then we would see. So far, visitors in Hanoi had produced no hope from the other side. This matter was left entirely open, but it was made quite plain by omission that the President did not expect to see President Nkrumah before his visit to Hanoi.

9. The President, in closing, made it very clear that he himself thought the North Vietnamese suggestion that President Nkrumah would be in danger was a fraud, and the friendly chuckles of his guests made it appear that they personally did not disagree. It was agreed that the meeting would not be discussed in detail, but that the Press Secretary would give a brief summary of the contents of President Nkrumah's message and of the oral reply which the President had given. The President would send a written reply promptly,/3/ and it was tentatively agreed that the two letters would be released after the Foreign Minister had carried the reply back and delivered it to President Nkrumah.

/3/Johnson's brief reply to Nkrumah was telegraphed to Accra and released to the press on August 7. (Ibid.)

10. With exchanges of further best wishes and expressions of regard and satisfaction, the meeting ended. The two visitors had clearly been both impressed and pleased by their reception.


/4/Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.

255. Telegram From the Embassy in Togo to the Department of State/1/

Lome, September 30, 1965, 1435Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Williams Papers, 1961-1966. Confidential. Repeated to Accra, Abidjan, and London.

152. From Governor Williams. Ghana Visit. Visit Accra very successful and provided opportunity frank exchange with President Nkrumah, Acting FonMin Botsio and MinDefense Kofi Baako. Also visited industrial complex Tema including Valco. Press treatment excellent with front page coverage in government-controlled press.

Nkrumah appeared to be in good health and received me with warmth and cordiality. Highlights during one-hour conversation included (1) Recognition by Nkrumah that cocoa-producing countries must reach consensus on export quotas and production controls in order achieve agreement on cocoa price stabilization with consuming countries; (2) Strong reaction from Nkrumah against Lin Piao's second revolution theory, contending that Chinese Communists don't understand African psychology; and (3) Expression regret that he did not have opportunity talk President Johnson about Vietnam and acceptance without argument my explanation of our Vietnam policy.

My general impression is that Nkrumah popularity continues to decline owing continued deterioration economic situation. Foreign exchange reserves at critically low level with prices increasing at annual rate more than 30 percent due short supplies and inflationary financing. As purchasing power wage and salary earners decline, present undercurrents dissatisfaction in urban centers likely grow; subsistence farmers which constitute bulk population not seriously affected. Nkrumah appears have firm control over major instruments of power and his security forces are becoming increasingly effective in ferreting out dissident individuals and groups.

Good question is whether when Nkrumah feels effects of his disastrous policies he may well begin to base decisions more on rational considerations rather than emotions as in the past. Our present posture toward Ghana is sound and helping to maintain the tremendous reservoir goodwill for U.S. among Ghanaian people including many of Nkrumah's ministers.

OAU meeting came up only incidentally, but Nkrumah did complain that Entente states were frustrating his efforts organize meeting.

After noting period good press relations, I cited number examples renewed press attacks on U.S. Nkrumah protested ignorance of any trend in Ghanaian press to renew vituperative comments against America. Did agree to review specific examples to be supplied by Embassy.

[Here follow 2 brief paragraphs on administrative matters.]

Impressed by excellent relations between Troxel and Ghanaians of all categories and with large and varied diplomatic community.


256. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Embassies in Africa/1/

Washington, November 23, 1965, 7:26 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15-1 GHANA. Confidential. Drafted by Officer in Charge of Ghana Affairs Robert P. Smith, and Hendrik Van Oss of AFW; cleared by Trimble, Donald J. Kent of AF/P, Robert F. Andrew of INR/RAF, and Ben Thirkeild of P/ON. Approved by Williams. Repeated to London.

1002. Embassies pass Consulates.

Nkrumah's Book

1. Following for your discretionary use with senior officials host govt.

2. In Oct Pres Nkrumah of Ghana published book entitled Neo-Colonialism--The Last Stage of Imperialism, and gave copies to African chiefs of state attending OAU conference at Accra. Book contains unmistakably hostile charges against USG motives, actions, and intentions and is clear and comprehensive statement of Nkrumah's fundamental anti-Western, anti-US bias. His charges against Peace Corps, USIA and CIA have already intensified Ghanaian press attacks on these agencies and constitute official sanction for continuing attacks.

3. Asst Secy Williams summoned Ghanaian Amb to US Ribeiro Nov 18 and lodged stern oral protest of book. Ribeiro was also handed aide-memoire/2/ (1) stating USG views Nkrumah's attacks on US in book with profound concern; (2) noting unprecedented nature such an attack by Head of State of friendly country; (3) informing GOG that book's hostility and its provocative and anti-American tone are "deeply disturbing and offensive" to USG; and (4) holding GOG fully responsible for whatever consequences book's publication may have.

/2/Dated November 17. (Ibid., POL GHANA-US)

4. Gov emphasized to Ribeiro we could not now foresee all consequences of book but that these would "undoubtedly become evident in due course."

5. Dept recognizes book thus far has had little or no impact in Africa and wants avoid any action which would unduly publicize it, or make USG appear overreacting. Above info should therefore be used cautiously, in low key and only if you deem appropriate in local context.

6. While Dept under no illusions that US response will alter Nkrumah's views, we believe it important make clear that attack of this nature by Head of State unacceptable. Failure to act may make more credible Nkrumah's position with other African governments that strong anti-US and anti-Western posture has no serious disadvantages.

7. On Nov 20 Emb Accra delivered note to GOG MinFonAffairs turning down GOG's long-pending request for over $100 million in PL-480 assistance./3/ No mention made in note of book. At noon briefing Nov 23, Dept spokesman confirmed protest made and PL-480 aid refused. When asked if our PL-480 refusal related to book's appearance, he replied "no comment."

/3/Dated November 19. (Ibid., AID (US) GHANA)

8. FYI. If pressed for reasons why PL-480 turned down you may say it impossible for US to grant all requests for surplus food; that quantity of PL-480 desired out of line with what we have provided in other African countries of comparable population. At same time, do not hide our dissatisfaction with book, or deny implication that its publication could well affect our relations with Ghana. We prefer let GOG and others draw own conclusions. If asked about this, your answer should be consistent with above.

9. Dept considering additional measures which, if adopted, will be carefully spaced and timed in order meet above objectives. End FYI.

10. INR research memo on book being pouched.


257. Memorandum for the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (Helms)/1/

Washington, February 25, 1966.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Ghana, Vol. II, Cables, 3/64-2/66. Secret; No Foreign Dissem; Controlled Dissem; Background Use Only. Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency. The source text is filed with an undated handwritten note from Helms to Bundy, apparently sent on February 28, noting that Bundy had expressed an interest in the subject when they talked on Friday (February 25) and adding, "I am particularly pleased to send you a favorable report on your last day."

Recent OCI Reporting on Ghana


On 24 February, a coup occurred in Ghana while President Nkrumah was en route to Peking. Over the past year, OCI reporting has noted persistent military dissatisfaction with the regime and pointed to a group of army and police officers who were plotting against Nkrumah. Because of government countermeasures and indecisiveness on the part of the plotters, the coup was apparently postponed several times. OCI publications have pointed out that the officers involved favored making their move either while Nkrumah was out of the country or when they could take advantage of an outburst of popular discontent. On 23 February, the day before the coup, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] reported that the commanders of the army's two brigades and the commissioner of police might be engineering a move to oust Nkrumah during his Asian tour.

1. [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] The embassy also has reported periodic build-ups of coup rumors, especially at times of economic tension.

On 10 February 1965, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] noted "plotting is actively underway to oust Nkrumah in the very near future. Plans are incomplete, and this, like previous plots, may collapse before execution."

The CIB of 26 February 1965 commented that "any move to oust Nkrumah would require the support of the army, one of the few power groups not yet under party control."

2. During the spring and early summer of 1965 a group of senior military and police officers continued to develop coup plots, to discuss tentative dates and occasions for overthrowing Nkrumah, and to vacillate about carrying out their plans. Younger, middle-grade officers were chafing over the failure of top military leaders to act. OCI reporting followed the ups and downs of the conspiracy, as indicated in the following examples.

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] 1 May 1965 noted "some of the steam appears to have gone out of the group of senior military and police officers plotting Nkrumah's overthrow. They are now said to have only vague plans to act sometime in June or July. Public resentment against Nkrumah's domestic policies remains high, however."

The CIWR of 4 June 1965 indicated that "anti-regime elements of the military and police might try to take advantage of any outburst of discontent to try to oust Nkrumah. Last month some younger officers were reported chafing over the failure of top military leaders to move against him."

The CIB of 19 June 1965 stated "Disaffected military and police leaders could well move against the regime soon, possibly during Nkrumah's current trip abroad (for the Commonwealth Conference) . . . . Many military leaders have long been unhappy over Nkrumah's leadership. A conviction that their personal interests are now at stake could finally overcome their reluctance to move . . . . The Otus (two brothers who held high military posts) have also recently been in close touch with pro-Western Police Commissioner Harlley, who is said to be thoroughly fed up with the regime and to have aligned himself with them."

3. As the plotters continued to delay putting their plans into operation, Nkrumah took countermeasures in July which apparently put a stop to the plotting for the time being.

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] 28 July 1965 said "Nkrumah's sudden move today in retiring Ghana's defense chief (Otu) and his deputy (Ankrah) effectively neutralizes the two as potential coup leaders. Both had been involved in coup plotting for several months but vacillated too long and gave Nkrumah the chance to act first."

4. The series of recent successful military coups elsewhere in West Africa apparently gave new encouragement to the Ghanaian plotters.

This development was reported [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] on 15 January 1966, which noted that "The rash of army coups in western Africa has sparked new plotting against Nkrumah. Last spring and summer, restless military officers were reportedly set to move, but they procrastinated too long and Nkrumah was able to defuse the plot."

On 17 February 1966, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] stated that "There is another plot afoot to kill Nkrumah and take over the government. A clandestine source [less than 1 line source text not declassified] reports that a number of important military and police officers were involved."

The latest report, which tied the coup plans to Nkrumah's trip abroad, was printed [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] on 23 February 1966.

258. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Ghana/1/

Washington, February 25, 1966, 6:18 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23-9 GHANA. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Smith and Pelletreau in AF/AFW, cleared by Gustafson in L/AF, and approved by Trimble in AF. Repeated to London.

452. Embtel 821./2/

/2/Telegram 821 from Accra, February 25, reported that the coup appeared completely successful and requested that major economic assistance be provided to the new regime. (Ibid.)

1. Embassy's prompt, comprehensive and perceptive reporting of coup events much appreciated by Dept.

2. Dept. fully cognizant that pressures for early recognition of new regime will mount. Before deciding how best to cope with this question, would prefer first have reaction of some other African countries. We wish avoid appearing overzealous by acting too quickly, thus lending credence to inevitable charges that U.S. masterminded coup. At same time, we wish move as quickly as feasible into position of mutually beneficial relations with new regime. Would hope be able take positive action soon. While you should make no commitment of any kind, you authorized maintain discreet normal contacts with NLC as necessary, but to extent possible leave initiatives to them at this early stage.

3. FYI: Dept. believes composition of NLC, particularly its Economic Committee, is encouraging/3/ and gives grounds for hope that new regime recognizes immense problems it faces. While our public posture influenced by para. 2 above, our attention already being directed toward question of how we might best assist Ghana in regaining its feet. Your comment para. 7 reftel relevant this connection. While speed important, however, technical and other considerations also necessitate certain amount of caution. Much will depend on performance NLC. First move in seeking US assistance, of course, must be initiation by NLC of specific requests for our consideration and that of other countries and with agencies such as IMF, IBRD. End FYI.

/3/In a February 25 letter to Bill Moyers, Ambassador Williams stated that the successful coup had been "extremely fortunate," that the new leaders were "strong friends of ours," and that they had acted with noble motives, to "rid the country of (oppressive) . . . conditions." (Johnson Library, Franklin H. Williams Papers)

4. We also encouraged by absence of bloodbath and generally moderate approach taken by NLC thus far toward Nkrumah's cohorts. Retention of judiciary and public service particularly welcome, as is apparent desire for rapid return to civilian government.

5. Nkrumah's hopes of returning to power and his subsequent statements and movements will of course continue be relevant.

6. Your comments and recommendations reftel will figure prominently in discussions here.


259. Telegram From the Embassy in Ghana to the Department of State/1/

Accra, March 3, 1966, 1845Z.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 GHANA. Confidential.

923. Depcirtel 1637./2/

/2/Circular telegram 1637, March 2, informed West African Embassies that although the United States intended to normalize relations with the new Ghana regime, it preferred that some other African countries (following Liberia's lead) extend recognition first. (Ibid.)

1. In informal call this afternoon on General Ankrah, Chairman of National Liberation Council (NLC), I took opportunity to emphasize US view that most important thing was not timing of recognition, which I told him I felt confident was coming, but nature of relationship that is eventually developed between our two governments. Ankrah replied that he fully understood why US could not get out in front, and said he was certain US recognition would come 24 hours after Africans moved. He asserted that NLC had already received recognition from Liberia, Malagasy Republic, West Germany, and expected Nigeria and OCAM countries to take action momentarily." He expressed opinion that NLC would have no problem with African countries soon as OAU Meeting Addis is over.

2. General Ankrah requested I inform President Johnson that Ghana will never look east again. He said that NLC may let Soviets and Chinese stay here as diplomatic missions but they will be so restricted that they won't be able to "do anything." He described as "crazy" that Ghana which speaks English should have had Russians teaching English rather than Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Americans or especially British--from our "mother country."

3. I told Ankrah that we would like to have NLC identify specific kinds of economic aid which they feel are needed, and indicated US prepared to "consider" these requests once they were communicated. He said he had asked Economic Committee to forward requests two days ago, and was disturbed when I told him I had been led to believe that Committee did not intend to send an official request until after recognition. Ankrah said Embassy would have first requests later this afternoon or at the latest tomorrow morning.

4. At close of call, I complimented General on statements he had made so far, and congratulated him on general orderly conduct of police and soldiers since take-over by NLC. He indicated that we would be seeing a lot of one another, and finished with comment "that darn Russian Ambassador was in Flagstaff House every five minutes."


260. Memorandum From the President's Acting Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Komer) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, March 12, 1966, 10:30 a.m.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Robert W. Komer, Vol. 21, 3/3/66-3/20/66. Confidential. A handwritten "L" on the source text indicates that the memorandum was seen by the President.

[Here follows a paragraph on Indonesia.]

The coup in Ghana is another example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African. In reaction to his strongly pro-Communist leanings, the new military regime is almost pathetically pro-Western.

The point of this memo is that we ought to follow through skillfully and consolidate such successes. A few thousand tons of surplus wheat or rice, given now when the new regimes are quite uncertain as to their future relations with us, could have a psychological significance out of all proportion to the cost of the gesture. I am not arguing for lavish gifts to these regimes--indeed, giving them a little only whets their appetites, and enables us to use the prospect of more as leverage.

But my experience is that the bureaucracy will err on the side of caution rather than initiative; hence my suggestion that, in expressing your pleasure to SecState and others over the Indonesia and Ghana coups, you make clear that we ought to exploit such successes as quickly and as skillfully as possible. You have no idea how important a word from you can be in setting the tone for the bureaucracy. And in this case I strongly suspect that my own suggestion is quite in accord with your own political instinct.

If you prefer, I would pass this word to Rusk and Bell; but at the moment there is simply no substitute for direct word from you.

R.W. Komer