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251. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Ghana

PARTICIPANTS

  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • Ambassador to Ghana, William P. Mahoney
  • Deputy Chief, Africa Division, [name not declassified]
[Page 443]
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 123 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 [Page 444]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.
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
  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.
  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)