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1972: Ghana PM ousted in bloodless coup

An army commander has seized control of Ghana while the prime minister is in London for medical treatment.

Shots have been heard near Prime Minister, Dr Kofi Busia's, residence in Accra - but the capital is reported to be otherwise calm.

The international airport has been closed to incoming flights and telephone and telegram links with the rest of the world have been cut.

The coup was led by Lieutenant Colonel I K Acheampong, commander of Ghana's first army brigade.

In a radio broadcast, he said Dr Busia had been dismissed and the army had taken power.


"My heart bled for Ghana, for I know what a tragic setback it would be"

Dr Kofi Busia, Prime Minister

Dr Busia has been accused of economic mismanagement and arbitrary arrest - both characteristics of the former Nkrumah regime which was ousted by an army coup in 1966.

Ghana has suffered economically from the fall in the price of cocoa, one of its key exports, and there is high unemployment.

A massive devaluation of the currency just two weeks ago led to a sharp rise in food prices.

The prime minister left Ghana only two days ago to receive treatment in London for an eye condition. He heard news of the coup on the radio.

Dr Busia said"I know many Ghanaians would be stunned.

"My heart bled for Ghana, for I know what a tragic setback it would be for the country if the coup were to succeed. It would plunge Ghana into political and economic chaos."

But he had no doubt democracy would be restored: "I shall not let my supporters down. We shall continue the march of progress."

Dr Busia came to power in 1969 after his Progress Party won 105 out of 140 seats in a general election.

In Context
Nine days after the coup, Dr Busia held a press conference in London during which he accused Colonel Acheampong of attempting to rule by the gun rather than the ballot box.

He revealed he had sent a letter to the colonel saying he had nothing to be ashamed of or to regret during his term of office.

He said he would go back to an academic career, which was how he had earned his living during the previous regime.


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