246. National Intelligence Estimate0

NIE 64.1-62


The Problem

To estimate President Nkrumah’s position in Ghana in the aftermath of the recent assassination attempt and terrorist attacks, and, over the short term, the outlook for his continued hold on power and likely developments in the event of his death.


Nkrumah is in trouble at home. In the course of establishing himself as messianic leader of an authoritarian state, he has broken or antagonized internal competitors and alienated many moderates. During the past year persons with marked Communist sympathies came to the fore in the regime, but in recent weeks some persons of moderate tendency have become of increased importance. He has deprived dissenters of all effective means of expression except violence. At the same time he is experiencing doubts as to the reliability of some of the forces upon which he has depended. The recent nearly successful attempt on his life and subsequent terror bombings have dramatized to Nkrumah, to the people of Ghana, and to outsiders the existence of extreme opposition. (Paras. 1-3, 5)
Not knowing who was responsible for the assassination attempt and the bombings, Nkrumah permitted widespread accusations of blame, including the US and UK. This charge is probably for internal consumption and uses the ever-popular theme of anticolonialism. He arrested members of his government whom he probably suspected of personal ambitions and probably suspects tribal elements, labor leaders, military officers and particularly the exiled oppositionists whom he may believe to be supported by the US and UK. (Paras. 6, 8-9)
Barring assassination, Nkrumah is likely to retain control. The security forces are not likely to attempt an overthrow, his control of the [Page 379] political apparatus is firm and his popularity still widespread. However, pressures against him will increase, particularly if the tight economic situation does not improve or if taxes and forced savings arouse widespread dissatisfaction. We do not believe he will attempt to attract the support of political moderates by altering his policies, domestic or foreign, though in an effort to forestall a financial crisis the government may attempt to improve the climate for private foreign investment. (Paras. 11-13)
If Nkrumah were assassinated the security forces would probably take steps to maintain order. The Cabinet would try to follow the constitutional procedures of appointing a commission, probably of old-guard Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) leaders, to rule until a new President was chosen. If they were able to move surely and promptly, the security forces would probably support them. We believe that it is by such means that a successor government would establish itself. In the event the party cannot agree on a commission or successor government, disorders would be likely to result, in which case the intervention of the security forces would give the moderates, both domestic and in exile, a better chance of establishing the successor regime. Whatever group comes to power is likely to follow many of the radical policies espoused by Nkrumah. (Paras. 14-15, 17)

[Here follows the Discussion section.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 79 R 01012A. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet: “The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, Defense, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and NSA.” All members of the U.S. Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on October 17, except the Atomic Energy Commission Representative and the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who abstained because the subject was outside their jurisdiction.