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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Resolving Ghana's violent past
President John Kufuor at a victory rally
President Kufuor promises a 'new era' for Ghana
By Kwaku Sakyi-Addo in Accra

The remains of eight Ghanaian generals executed in 1979 will be exhumed so their families can give them a proper burial.


I've been looking forward to this for years

Widow
President John Kufuor made the decision following a petition from the generals' widows to have the bodies handed over to them.

The decision, according to an official statement, is part of the government's plan to bring to an end one of the most violent and controversial periods of Ghana's history and enhance national reconciliation.

Among the eight generals were Akwasi Afrifa, Kutu Acheampong and Fred Akuffo all former military Heads of State.

They were executed 22 years ago, during the three-month rule of the AFRC, led by former President Jerry Rawlings.

Justice?

The generals were hurriedly tried on charges of corruption, abuse of power and treason. One of them, Commodore Joy Amedume, was shot for allegedly taking advantage of his office to acquire a bank loan equivalent to about $20,000.

The executions were the culmination of three months of chaos.

President Rawlings in 1979
The men were executed during President Rawlings' first regime
It was a time when there was mass anger against the military leadership which had ran the country for seven years.

The Kufuor administration was unsure if the remains of the generals could be found at all and family members were concerned that they might have been buried in unmarked graves.

However senior prisons officials have said that they know the exact location of their burial.

The authorities have not yet set a date for the exhumation of the remains.

Anticipation

Family members of the generals told the BBC that they were looking forward to the event.

"I'm happy about the decision; I've been looking forward to this for years," said Mrs. Christine Afrifa, widow of General Afrifa, who led the coup against Dr Kwame Nkrumah in February 1966.

"My grandson who'll be four in June sees the photograph of my husband, and he's been asking me 'Nana, where's Grandpa? Where's he gone?' " said Mrs Yaw Boakye, widow of Air Vice-Marshall Yaw Boakye.

"I tell him that one day he'll come back, and now he's coming back - sort of."

President Kufuor has also authorised the return of a house which was allocated in the 1970s to the family of Ghana's first President Kwame Nkrumah but was confiscated by the Rawlings administration.

The government will also restore and return the property of the late former Prime Minister Kofi Busia that was confiscated after his overthrow in 1972.

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See also:

21 Mar 01 | Africa
Ghana to look at its past
07 Jan 01 | Africa
Ghana marks start of 'new era'
06 Jan 01 | Africa
Kufuor: Ghana's gentle giant
06 Jan 01 | Africa
Rawlings farewell to military
16 Feb 01 | Africa
Kufuor promises economic change
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