Today marks exactly 54 years since Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana was deposed in a military coup by the National Liberation Council (NLC). On February 24th 1966, the NLC launched a military coup which unconstitutionally ousted Dr Nkrumah from office under the code name “Operation Cold Chop”.
This coup occurred while Dr Nkrumah was away on a peace mission in Hanoi the capital of Vietnam at the invitation of the president, Ho Chi Minh to resolve the Vietnam War.
Lt-Gen Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka, leader of the coup plotters, made an announcement on the radio to inform Ghanaians of the takeover.
He said, “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,”.
Dr Nkrumah later in addressing the coup in his book titled, ‘Dark Days in Ghana’, allegedly accused the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A) of supporting the Ghana Armed Forces to oust him.
Several reasons have been cited by prominent historians for his ousting. Some historians believe that the “African Giant” was accused of tilting his support towards the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during the ‘Cold War’, thus, his overthrow.
He was also accused of introducing the Preventive Detection Act, corruption, dictatorial practices and oppression.
He also forced into early retirement the army’s most senior officers which according to, sources was the principal reason for the uprising.
Following the night after the coup, there were demonstrations of support for the new rulers, who styled themselves the National Liberation Council (NLC).
He exiled himself to Guniea where he became an honorary co-president to Sekou Toure, the president of Guniea at that time. He offered him refuge, a place to leave and a job. Unfortunately, he never returned to Ghana alive. He died of prostate cancer in Bucharest, Romania at age 62.