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National Liberation Council - 1966-69

In 1966 the armed forces moved to end its use as a political tool by overthrowing Nkrumah. The officer corps of the regular armed forces viewed the activities of the Nkrumah regime with increasing alarm. As a result, on February 24, 1966, a small number of army officers and senior police officials, led by Colonel E.K. Kotoka, commander of the Second Army Brigade at Kumasi; Major A.A. Afrifa, staff officer in charge of army training and operations; Lieutenant General (retired) J.A. Ankra; andJ.W.K. Harlley, the police inspector general, successfully launched a coup d'etat against the Nkrumah regime.

The new government, known as the National Liberation Council (NLC), justified its action by citing Nkrumah's abuse of power, widespread political repression, sharp economic decline, and rampant corruption. For the next twenty-five years, the military repeatedly intervened in the political process to stabilize Ghana and to improve the country's economy.

Matters deteriorated further after the coup that deposed Nkrumah. In July 1967, Canadian Colonel James Bond, the Canadian military attache, asked to write a report on how Canada could further assist the Ghanaian armed forces, Bond wrote on '1966 preoccupation of senior officers with their civilian duties as members of the National Liberation Council and as regional administrators'. In 1992, however, Ghana's military regime presided over multiparty elections, which the regime hoped would return the country to a parliamentary system of government.

On April 17, 1967, a group of junior officers of the army reconnaissance squadron based at Ho in the Volta region launched a countercoup; however, intervention by other military units and the lack of a coherent plan on the part of the mutineers saved the NLC. After an investigation, the two young lieutenants who commanded the mutiny were tried by a military court, convicted, and executed. The courts also passed lengthy prison sentences on twenty-six of the reconnaissance squadron's noncommissioned officers who supported the coup attempt.

Pro-Nkrumah elements also plotted against the NLC. In late 1968, the authorities arrested Air Marshal M.A. Otu, who had succeeded Kotoka as general officer commanding the armed forces but not as an NLC member, and his aide, a navy lieutenant, for alleged subversive activity. A military court charged both men with plans to overthrow the NLC and to return Nkrumah to power, but eventually the two were acquitted. There were no further incidents or threats to the NLC. After a civilian government came to power in October 1969, the armed forces reverted to their traditional roles of maintaining internal security and safeguarding territorial integrity.

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