|07ACCRA478||2007-03-01 15:37:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Accra|
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ACCRA 000478
1. (U) Summary: This is the sixth in a series of cables
looking at Ghana at 50 and the second in a series focused on
Ghana's external relations. Ghana,s legacy of
continent-wide leadership began with its first president
Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah's legacy includes a commitment to
multilateral organizations and the non-aligned movement,
support for African unity and an emphasis on maintaining good
relations with neighboring countries. These have been
consistent themes in Ghana's foreign policy, which has at
times veered to the left and right with changes in government
and Cold War calculations. Ghana has enjoyed consistently
strong relations with Europe and the United States since the
mid-1980s. End summary.
Nkrumah,s Enduring Vision
2. (U) Ghana's first president laid the foundation of
Ghana,s foreign policy. In particular, he left four
enduring pillars of foreign policy: Ghana's strong
commitment to multilateral organizations, its commitment to
the non-alignment movement, its leadership in promoting
African unity, and its partnership with neighboring states.
3. (U) Nkrumah referred to himself as the &Gandhi of
Africa8 and he stated &The Independence of Ghana is
meaningless unless it is linked up to the total liberation of
Africa.8 He formed the Bureau of African Affairs (its focus
was assisting non-independent African states break free from
colonial rule) and African Affairs Secretariat (traditional
diplomatic work). Nkrumah supported &freedom fighters8,
opposition groups, and labor unions elsewhere in Africa, and
created an African liberation radio. Nkrumah traveled to
capitals all over the world to plead for African freedom and
was personally involved in the internal struggle of African
states. In 1960, Ghana sent peacekeepers for the first time
to the Congo as part of a United Nations contingent (Ghana
today is still a major contributor to UN peacekeeping). In
the Congo, Nkrumah was very vocal about the UN mandate,
arguing that the UN was interfering in internal African
affairs. Once an African state received its independence,
Nkrumah turned his attention to its integration within a
4. (U) Nkrumah envisioned a &United States of Africa8 and
championed the Pan-African movement. In 1958, he sponsored
an All-African Peoples Conference in Accra, the first
Pan-African conference to be held on African soil. When
Guinea became the only French African colony to vote no for
closer integration with France in 1958, Nkrumah took the
first step towards African Unification by signing an
agreement with Guinea,s leader to unite the two countries.
Mali joined this union in 1961.
5. (U) Starting in 1960, the African Caucus became a
formidable voting block in the UN. In 1963, Nkrumah
organized a conference of the 32 independent African States
in Addis Ababa, where the Organization of African Unity was
formed. Although, Nkrumah never saw his dream of African
Unity become a reality and the Ghana-Guinea-Mali union
eventually dissolved, elements of his vision were adopted and
are evident today in regional and Africa-wide organizations.
6. (U) Beginning in 1961, Ghana became a socialist state
and its foreign policy agenda followed suit. Nkrumah was a
founding member of the non-alignment movement. Ghana gained
a reputation for being independent-minded in foreign affairs
and vocal on international issues. Although Ghana was
officially in the non-alignment movement, it developed close
ties to the Soviet Union, China and Cuba.
7. (SBU) Nkrumah,s aggressive foreign policy was a
contributing factor to his downfall. According to Mr. K.B.
Asante, former head of the African Affairs Secretariat in
Nkrumah,s government, Nkrumah on numerous occasions would
comment that &his work in Ghana was finished and he must now
concern himself with the rest of Africa.8 Asante further
commented that because of Nkrumah,s earlier successes he
ACCRA 00000478 002.2 OF 002
became &larger than life8 and started to think he was
invincible. Nkrumah lost touch with Ghana and Ghanaians.
His failure to grasp the economic suffering of many Ghanaians
and the impact of his authoritarian policies contributed to
his ouster in a military coup in 1966.
Aftermath of Nkrumah: Ad Hoc Foreign Policy
8. (U) In the next two decades, Ghana experienced five
military coups, and numerous coup attempts and political
experiments. Ghana's GDP fell by 24 percent from 1970 to
1981 (ref c). Instability led to inward-looking leadership
with an improvised and pragmatic foreign policy. At times
Ghana turned to the West for assistance, and at other times
to the former Soviet Bloc.
9. (U) In a notable change from Nkrumah,s foreign policy
legacy, Prime Minister Kofi A. Busia (1969-1972) drew closer
to the West. Busia also advocated dialogue with the
apartheid regime in South Africa, instead of condemning or
actively trying to overthrow the government. This broke
foreign policy unity with other African countries.
The Rawlings Years
10. (U) J.J. Rawlings seized power for the second time in
1981. Using revolutionary and Marxist rhetoric, he called
for a new order that &must be anti-imperialist,
anti-colonialist and must aim at instituting a popular
democracy.8 He used the examples of Cuba, China and Libya
in establishing Workers, and People,s Defense Committees
and remained close to these countries throughout his
11. (SBU) Nonetheless, Rawlings shifted decidedly toward
the West in the mid-80s. This was in part a response to
internal pressures. Ghana's economy was near collapse.
Rawlings, PNDC government claimed that there were 32
attempted coups between 1981-1983, partly triggered by
Rawlings' Soviet orientation and the foundering state of the
economy. In 1983, Rawlings adopted a World Bank/IMF Economic
Reform Program that began to stabilize the economy and
attracted Western financial aid, in spite of Rawlings'
continued authoritarian rule. The end of the Cold War and
Ghana's democratic transition further solidified Rawlings'
shift toward the West.
12. (SBU) Rawlings initially had strained relations with
Burkina Faso and Cote d, Ivoire because they were
conservative and pro-French. For similar reasons and because
of perceived outside threats to his regime, he actively
sought to destabilize Togo, sending in troops, backing
opposition groups and attempting regime change. According to
James Victor Gbeho, a former foreign minister in the
Rawlings, government, Rawlings felt he could not escape the
belief that Western countries were &ganging up on him.8
Gbeho acknowledged that Rawlings eventually made conciliatory
overtures to Ghana's neighbors. He also became more
interested in a broader African leadership position, assuming
the ECOWAS Chair in 1994-1996.
13. (U) Ghana's external relations have impacted the entire
continent. Ghanaian analysts overwhelmingly cite Ghana's
role in African liberation and leadership in African
solidarity as the country's greatest foreign policy
accomplishment. Despite periodic shifts toward the former
Soviet Block, the Nkrumahist "pillars" have guided Ghana's
foreign policy through the years and are still very
influential today. Ghanaians view President Kufuor's
election to the AU Chair in this broader historical context.
The Busia shift to the West, which Rawlings was eventually
forced to adopt and was reinforced by the end of the Cold
War, laid the groundwork for Ghana's current pro-US and
pro-Europe foreign policy (septels).