231. Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman) to Secretary of State Rusk0

  • Internal Dissension in Ghana

Strikes Reflect Growing Discontent. Week-long strikes in the three main towns of Ghana, called initially to protest the government’s compulsory savings scheme, reflect widespread public discontent with the Nkrumah government. Government efforts to persuade the strikers to return to work have gone largely unheeded. Nkrumah, who has been abroad since July, has thus far ignored urgent pleas from party leaders to return home to deal with the situation personally.

Moderates May Break With Nkrumah. If the strikes should get out of control, indicating an unexpected groundswell of popular opposition to Nkrumah, some of the more moderate old-guard leaders of the ruling Convention People’s Party (CPP) may be tempted to try to depose him, either by force or by political intrigue. The moderates, who include several cabinet ministers, have been increasingly critical of the President because of his growing reliance on younger left-leaning radicals within the party. The moderates command sizeable followings among the major Ashanti and Ewe tribes, two traditional centers of dissatisfaction with the government. Nkrumah would probably use totalitarian methods to suppress any open opposition by the moderates, eliminating in the process most of the pro-Western elements in the CPP.

Possibility of a Coup. Aware that an open break with Nkrumah will be met with repressive measures, the moderates may see a coup as the only course open to them. Reports of plottings are filtering out of Ghana. In view of the respect the moderates have for Nkrumah’s political astuteness and his ability heretofore to marshal popular support, it is unlikely that they would attempt a coup without army support. (The police are reportedly loyal to Nkrumah.) Ghanaian officers are known to be dissatisfied with the present government, but British officers in command of the Ghana forces will probably caution against the Army’s participation in any attempted coup for fear of implicating the UK Government.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Ghana. Secret; Noforn. On September 15, Battle forwarded a copy of the memorandum to McGeorge Bundy at the White House under cover of a memorandum that reads: “Enclosed is a paper prepared in the Department which might be of interest to you.”