258. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Ghana1

452. Embtel 821.2

Embassy’s prompt, comprehensive and perceptive reporting of coup events much appreciated by Dept.
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.
FYI: Dept. believes composition of NLC, particularly its Economic Committee, is encouraging3 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.
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.
Nkrumah’s hopes of returning to power and his subsequent statements and movements will of course continue be relevant.
Your comments and recommendations reftel will figure prominently in discussions here.
  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.
  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.)
  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)