Ghana Foils Possible Coup5 min read

The government of Ghana have claimed to successfully foil an operation that had “the ultimate aim of destabilizing the country” (BBC). On September 23rd, the Ghanaian government foiled a plot created by three individuals that was believed to be a coup attempt. They viewed the three individuals as ambitious to expand their beliefs through recruiting and radicalization of the young. The government confiscated stashes of weapons and ammunition, as well as “computer equipment, a voice recorder, and a Ghanaian passport,” from the perpetrators possession. The group has been claimed to be identified under TAG, or Take Action Ghana: a group with the desire of mobilizing the youth. However, the Ghanaian government has found that the true intention of the group is to “radicalize them against the political authority of Ghana” (BBC). Some have downplayed TAG’s efforts due to their lack of weapons and support. Mass procurement of weapons is not uncommon in Ghana, as a number of military personnel had previously been accused of the act.

The current Ghanaian government, under President Nana Akufo-Addo, is not considered very popular among the Ghanaian population. Akufo-Addo (75) represents the Ghanaian New Patriotic Party. The party is considered center-right and liberal conservative, opposite to the Ghanaian NDC, or National Democratic Congress. Akufo-Addo, elected in 2016, had made great promises during his campaign, barely any of which he has been able to suffice. The country will engage in an election in 2020.

This coup attempt, though, “still comes as a surprise,” considering the country’s last coup took place in 1982 (BBC). At that time, Ghana was lead by Hilla Limann. Limann, who had been President since 1979 at that point, was criticized by other party leaders for failing to resolve many of Ghana’s economic issues. One of Limann’s most notable critics, Jerry Rawlings, decided to stage a coup against the then-President. Rawlings coup, his 2nd overall, turned out to be a success and launched Rawlings into sole state leadership of Ghana. Rawlings established the PNDC, or Provisional National Defense Council, as the one leading party of Ghana. However, just as the man he had pushed out of office, Rawlings also struggled with keeping Ghana’s economy afloat. Rawlings and his party were later voted out of office in 1992 elections. 

Ghana has seemingly destabilized the “threat” of a coup for the time being. However, as history has shown, countries who had previously underwent coups are more than likely to undergo another at some point in their future. While the military coups single-party government led by Jerry Rawlings have been in Ghana’s rear-view mirror for almost three decades, history tends to repeat itself, which is very commonplace when it comes to coups. The current Ghanaian government is, simply put, not very popular among its people. This public strife, as well as Ghana’s current status as a two-party state, could create factions against the government. Before we know it, the NPP may be no more. Well…that might be a bit too radical of a belief. However, there is no doubt that the current Ghanaian government and ruling party receives great amounts of opposition from its population.

How far exactly are people willing to let democracy go? I’m not saying this in opposition to democracy, I actually quite like the concept of it. However, with democracy comes widespread public opinion of many variations. Public opinion is, morally, a very good thing. However, there have been many cases of public opinion seeping into the government and creating turmoil. Ghana is a democracy, and has been on and off for the past half-century. The people are Ghana are able to decide who their leader shall be, which is extremely common among all democracies. The Ghanaian people through voting are able to have great influence over their country, something that a number of other countries in Africa are unable to say. So how exactly can that get too far? Well, take coups, for example. Coups may not be built off of public opinion as much as the ability to rally and gain trust from the military, but there is certainly a public opinion element to it. Primarily, when exactly does one decide that their leader is not sufficient to their standards and that they would be better off with someone else leading. Jerry Rawlings had this proposition twice, and became the leader both times.

I am not at all trying to say that this incident of three individuals attempting to create a anti-government youth league is a testament to how dangerous democracies can be. However, Ghana has a history of coups. Coups tend to repeat themselves. The current Ghanaian government is unpopular among its people. The three men were found to attempt to create a coup. Who says that this will be the last case of this occurring during Akufo-Addo’s remaining tenure as President. Ghana will engage in an election next year, with many hoping they will see the end of Akufo-Addo’s presidency. However, as history has shown, the end of the NPP’s reign may be the beginning of a new opposition in Ghana.

Works Cited:

“Ghana Halts ‘Elaborate Plot to Destabilise Country’.” BBC News, BBC, 24 Sept. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-49808879.

Communications Bureau. “Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.” The Presidency, Republic of Ghana, 1 Feb. 2018, www.presidency.gov.gh/index.php/governance/the-president.

Holt, Jennifer. “The Complicated Political Legacy of Jerry Rawlings.” Africa Is a Country, africasacountry.com/2019/05/the-complicated-political-legacy-of-jerry-rawlings.

1 thought on “Ghana Foils Possible Coup<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">5</span> min read</span>”

  1. I thought this post was very interesting and got me thinking about how a seemingly stable democracy (compared to much of the rest of Africa) could suddenly fail. It surprised me to read that the government is not popular after talking in class about Ghana’s citizen’s approval ratings of its democracy, which were higher than the rest of the continent. I think the most intriguing aspect of this post is the question of when a population prefers a change in government. Why would the military be convinced that a coup is more appropriate than simply voting in the next elections? Public opinion is a huge component and obviously some citizens could view a coup as more efficient than elections. This represents a belief from the population that the system in place is not working, which usually comes from a feeling that the system is failing many people. A military coup, while taking into account public opinion, also relies heavily on ring leaders convincing or manipulating the country that this is a better alternative to the current system. I am interested to see if any such convincing/manipulation could take place after the 2020 elections if a representative is elected and quickly becomes unpopular.

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