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Ghana - GOVERNMENT




Ghana - Government and Politics

AFTER AN UNHAPPY SURVEY of the tragic history of liberal democracy in post-colonial Africa--a survey in which Ghana was certainly at the forefront, two astute observers of the African political scene asked, "If Western democracy . . . ended up looking like a sad cross between paternalism and corruption, what are the alternatives? What might an indigenous African form of democracy look like?" They claimed that the answer had to be sought in the ideas and forms of equality and participation found in the village council and similar institutions of community governance. Thus, according to them, a "greater reliance on modern variations of these forms might succeed where Western forms of democracy had failed."

Ideas similar to these helped inspire the 31st of December, 1981, Revolution in Ghana. The revolution set in motion a process of national democratic transformation linked to the unfulfilled democratic ideals and aspirations of the June 4, 1979, popular uprising led by Jerry John Rawlings, chairman of what became the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) after 1981. The PNDC leadership insisted that the revolution was not a carbon copy of any other revolution and that it was aimed at resolving Ghana's socio-economic problems, using Ghana's historical experiences and cultural traditions as a basis. Thus, the PNDC leadership effectively challenged the notion that the options for Ghana's evolving democratic institutions and popular grass-roots structures were limited to different versions of Marxism-Leninism, Westernstyle liberalism of the "left" or "right," or military rule, which had been practiced before the Revolution and had not worked.

Accordingly, four major, related themes of PNDC rule remained relatively constant throughout the tumultuous transition to constitutional democracy, a movement that had widespread popular support. These were: a rejection of extreme ideological tendencies and of multiparty politics, as practiced in Ghana since independence, which had been divisive, corrupt, and elitist; decentralization, aimed at the practical application of the ideas of mass participation going back to early nationalist struggles against colonialism and at achieving a fundamental restructuring of the machinery of government; establishment of democratic structures and institutions at every level of society; and national unity and commitment to the ideals of Pan-Africanism, nonalignment, and noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries.

What perhaps ultimately distinguished the PNDC period from others were, on the negative side, the extent of political violence, repression of political dissent, and widespread human rights violations, which especially characterized the early period of PNDC rule. On the positive side, the PNDC was noted for its extraordinary ability to put together a capable team with the political will and resourcefulness to pull the country out of its deepest economic crisis in living memory and to return the country to democracy in the face of persistent "counterrevolutionary" pressures, numerous coup attempts, and moves to destabilize the regime.

The PNDC government lasted for eleven turbulent years and survived presidential and parliamentary elections in 1992. In January 1993, Rawlings effected a relatively peaceful transition from military ruler to elected president of the Fourth Republic. His pledge of policy continuity has ensured that in many significant respects the PNDC remains in power, but there is an important difference. The present government was elected under a new democratic constitution that guarantees fundamental human rights, independence of the media, civil liberties, and the rule of law.

Ghana - THE PROVISIONAL NATIONAL DEFENSE COUNCIL

Within thirty-five years of Ghana's becoming a sovereign state, the country experienced, before its fourth return to multiparty democratic government in January 1993, nine different types of government (three civilian and six military), including a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy, a socialist single-party republic, and several military regimes following coups in 1966, 1972, 1979, and 1981.

The new national leadership of postcolonial Ghana inherited state machinery that had evolved under British rule and that emphasized strong centralization of power and top-down decision making. Kwame Nkrumah--prime minister, 1957-60; president, 1960-66- -unsuccessfully attempted to create a socialist economy in the early 1960s, but his effort merely served to compound the inevitable problems and dangers of administrative centralization and state intervention in the economy. These problems, which survived Nkrumah, included political corruption, self-enrichment, misuse of power, lack of public accountability, and economic mismanagement, leading in turn to economic decline and stagnation and to the rapid erosion of political legitimacy and attendant coups d'état. Authoritarian or arbitrary styles of leadership that limited genuine democratic participation and public debate on policy as well as the lack of political vision of successive postcolonial regimes (with the exception of Nkrumah's) contributed greatly to political instability and to the rapid alternation of civilian and military rule.

One of the changes in government came on June 4, 1979, when a handful of junior officers seized power less than a month before scheduled elections. An Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) was formed with the overriding objectives of ridding Ghana of official corruption, indiscipline in public life, and economic mismanagement before handing over power to a civilian government. A relatively unknown twenty-nine-year-old air force flight lieutenant, Jerry John Rawlings, emerged as the leader of the AFRC. The so-called house-cleaning exercise embarked upon by the AFRC was extended to a variety of civilian economic malpractices such as hoarding, profiteering, and black-marketing.

Parliamentary elections were duly held on June 18, 1979, as planned. A party of the Nkrumahist tradition, the People's National Party (PNP), won a majority of the parliamentary seats, and its leader, Hilla Limann, became president after a run-off election. On September 24, 1979, the AFRC handed over government to the PNP. At this time, Rawlings warned the PNP government that it was on probation and admonished the incoming officials to put the interest of the people first.

The PNP administration was short-lived. On December 31, 1981, Rawlings returned to office for the second time as head of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC). He insisted that the 31st December, 1981, Revolution was necessitated, among other factors, by the failure of the PNP administration to provide effective leadership and by the virtual collapse of the national economy and of state services. Upon assuming power, Rawlings immediately declared a "holy war" aimed at restructuring national political institutions, establishing genuine democracy based on Ghanaian ideals and traditions, and rehabilitating the economy.

Ghana - The Political Scene Under the PNDC

For democracy to function effectively in Ghana, it was necessary to relate Western democratic processes to Ghanaian political traditions. Peter Du Sautoy, a former district commissioner, recalled his attempt to explain British democracy in the country before independence. His audience understood the process of election, but he was asked how one got rid of one's representative when he no longer seemed to be representative. Du Sautoy explained that one waited until the next election four or five years later. His Ghanaian audience felt that "this was most undemocratic--from time immemorial they had been able to get rid of their chiefs at any tim, when, after mature consideration and discussion, they felt they no longer had confidence in them."

This observation clearly defines one enduring aspect of the relationship between politics and democracy as understood by the ordinary Ghanaian. It also highlights the significance of indigenous political ideology and attitudes that constitute the core elements of the contemporary Ghanaian political tradition. This political tradition, along with inherited colonial and Christian elements, informs and shapes the institutional pattern of political life. Its basic principles influence disputes and conflicts over the organization, distribution, maintenance, exercise, and transfer of power, and the allocation of economic resources in Ghanaian society.

The published speeches of Rawlings provide evidence of the effective use of symbols and principles drawn from ancestral religious beliefs, Christianity, and chieftaincy. Indeed, Rawlings insisted throughout PNDC rule that the revolution's main and longterm goal was to create a more just society in which the interests of the majority were not repressed in favor of those of a tiny minority and in which the productivity of all Ghanaians would increase. He saw participatory democracy as the best guarantee of such a society.

The PNDC leadership could scarcely avoid the ideological tension and strife generic to Ghanaian popular movements and massbased political programs. Ironically, the ideological strife that haunted the PNDC leadership was similar to that which wrecked the PNP. In 1980 Limann, PNP leader and president of Ghana, had complained helplessly that the PNP as a mass party spanned the whole range of political ideas. He pointed out that party members included pragmatists, leftists, rightists, and centrists, and he stressed that no national party with a broad social base could escape this mix. The left wing of the PNP--for example, the Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guards--was Limann's severest critic. Some of the leaders of the same left wing and similar organizations joined the PNDC and attempted unsuccessfully in the early years of the revolutionary period to transform what was clearly a nationalist, popular revolution in the direction of Marxism-Leninism.

In the first year after the 31st December 1981 Revolution, the PNDC regime established new political structures and legal institutions. The new administration rebuilt or reformed much of the pre-existing local, regional, and national administrative machinery of governance in accordance with the avowed goals of the revolution. During the following ten years, many of these new structures of governance and consultation were modified in response to the demands of efficiency, social and economic realities, and internal and external political pressures. A number of these institutional and structural changes were incorporated into the 1992 Constitution of the Fourth Republic.

One such institution was the National Commission for Democracy (NCD), which evolved from the Electoral Commission of the Third Republic. In 1984 the NCD invited the public to submit proposals on the future form of democratic government for the country. In addition, public meetings were held to discuss how to realize true democracy in Ghana. As a result of these and other efforts, the NCD published its "Blue Book" on the creation of district political authority and on holding elections. These efforts culminated in the district elections of 1988 and the subsequent establishment of 110 district assemblies. In July 1990, the NCD initiated more public debates on the future political system of the country. This marked a significant step in the transition to democracy, which ended with the presidential and parliamentary elections in November and December 1992.

By the late 1980s, the PNDC comprised nine members, the most important being Rawlings, the chairman. It was the highest legislative and administrative body of the state. Below the PNDC was the Committee of Secretaries (cabinet), made up of nineteen secretaries (ministers) who met on a weekly basis under the chairmanship of a PNDC member. The most prominent of the secretaries were those in charge of finance and economic planning, foreign affairs, education and culture, local government and rural development, agriculture, health, mobilization and productivity, and chieftaincy affairs.

Ghana - Revolutionary Organs

To lay the foundation for true democracy in Ghana, the PNDC created a controversial countrywide network of People's Defence Committees (PDCs) and Workers' Defence Committees (WDCs), reorganized and renamed, in late 1984 as Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs). Established in villages, urban communities, and workplaces, the CDRs were intended to be organs of popular power and political initiative. Forces' Defence Committees were established in the armed forces and the police service.

The most important aspect of the reorganization of the PDCs and the WDCs from the standpoint of the political and socioeconomic functions of the CDRs was the opening up of membership to all Ghanaians. This decision reversed the earlier exclusion from PDC/WDC membership of elite groups, such as chiefs and so-called exploiting classes. The change returned the revolution to its original objective of involving all Ghanaians in decision making and opened up possibilities for genuine national reconciliation. According to official directives, the principal functions of the CDRs were to ensure democratic participation in decision making in all communities and workplaces; to guard against corruption, abuse of power, sabotage, and social injustice; and to promote sustained national productivity by focusing efforts on the productive sectors of the economy.

The other mass organizations of the revolution were the National Mobilisation Program, the 31st December Women's Movement, the Civil Defence Organisation (the militia), the National Youth Organising Commission, and the June Four Movement. The National Mobilisation Program started as an emergency program to receive and resettle Ghanaian returnees from Nigeria in 1983. It soon developed into a cooperative movement engaged in a variety of economic and community development projects throughout Ghana. The 31st December Women's Movement aimed to bring about the political, social, and economic emancipation of Ghanaian women, especially rural women.

The Civil Defence Organisation, popularly known as the militia, was set up as a paramilitary institution to assist other state organizations in national emergencies such as invasions, bush fires, and floods. Members received special training in combat readiness to defend the nation against internal and external aggression and economic sabotage. The militia, in addition to combating crime in local communities, engaged in voluntary social and economic activities to help promote community development. In this effort, it was often assisted by the National Youth Organising Commission, created in 1982 as part of the PNDC's efforts to establish a youth movement to carry out the objectives of the 31st December 1981 Revolution.

The June Four Movement was a militant mass revolutionary movement dedicated to keeping alive the ideals of the June 4, 1979, uprising that Rawlings had led. It sought to arouse the population at large to assist in establishing so-called people's power within the avowed objectives of the revolutionary process. On a practical level, it worked with the militia and the National Youth Organising Commission in various community development projects.

Participatory opportunities of the ordinary Ghanaian citizen were significantly expanded through membership in revolutionary organs. Before the establishment of the district assemblies in 1989, the PNDC government was thus able to reach the rural population and to broaden its base of support by direct consultation. This was achieved through chiefs, the CDRs, and other national bodies such as the Democratic Youth League of Ghana, which in 1988 claimed a nationwide membership of more than 100,000. Other such groups included farmers' organizations, market women's associations, trade union groups, students' organizations, and religious and other bodies. The PNDC's political opposition, however, hotly contested the democratic nature of such organs and saw them as nothing but state-sponsored vigilantes engaged in intimidation and human rights abuses.

Ghana - Political Ferment Under the PNDC

As the country prepared to move toward constitutional rule, the major concern of Ghanaians was how to ensure a relatively smooth and peaceful democratic transition. This concern was shared by the opposition, the activities of which were under constant surveillance by the national security agencies, and by the ruling PNDC, under pressure to present a clear, firm timetable and program for a return to constitutional government.

The transition process had unsavory features that many Ghanaians believed could lead to an outbreak of violence. Intense mutual suspicion and antipathy existed between the PNDC leadership and the opposition going back to the June 4, 1979, uprising and the draconian measures taken by the AFRC. On one side, Rawlings and the PNDC saw the opposition leaders not as individuals genuinely interested in real democracy but as elitist, corrupt, and selfseeking "big men" who had vowed to fight to the bitter end to reverse the gains of the revolution and to restore the old system of corruption and exploitation.

On the other, the opposition viewed Rawlings and his Ewe ethnic henchmen, notably Kojo Tsikata, his chief of security, as a bloodthirsty group--with the worst human rights record in postcolonial Ghanaian history--which was determined to retain power by any means. Many opposition leaders could not forgive Rawlings for the loss of lives, power, and property, and for the incarcerations inflicted on friends and relatives, if not on themselves, by the PNDC regime. The once respectable professional elite of comfortable lawyers, doctors, university professors, businessmen, and politicians in exile abroad could not hide their outrage at Ghana's being ruled by, to them, a young, inexperienced, half-educated military upstart.

It is against this background of intense mutual hostility and distrust and vicious political rivalry that the evolution of the democratic transition between 1988 and the inauguration of the Fourth Republic in January 1993 should be assessed and understood. This long transition process was characterized by two related struggles: the struggle for economic recovery from decades of economic decline and for better living standards for the average Ghanaian; and the struggle for "true democracy," the meaning of which was hotly debated and gradually shifted over time, especially after 1988. These national struggles led to the reconstitution of old political alliances and to the emergence of new political groupings.

That it took the PNDC more than ten years to lift the ban imposed on political parties at the inception of PNDC rule not only demonstrated the PNDC's control over the pace and direction of political change but also confirmed the shallowness of the political soil in which the party system was rooted. Party activity had been banned under all the military governments that had dominated nearly twenty out of the thirty-five years of Ghana's postcolonial existence. Even during periods of civilian administration, party organization had been largely urban centered and rudimentary. It had depended far more on personal alliances and on ethnic and local ties, not to mention patron-client relationships, than on nationally institutionalized structures. Party politics had tended to generate corruption and factionalism. The party system, therefore, never had any real hold on the consciousness of the average Ghanaian, especially the rural Ghanaian.

All the same, three major electoral political traditions have emerged in Ghana since the 1950s, namely, the Nkrumahist tradition, the Danquah-Busiaist tradition, and the more recent Rawlingsist tradition. These traditions are identified with their founders-- each a commanding political figure--and are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In political terms, the Nkrumahists are generally considered "leftist" and "progressive," the DanquahBusiaists more "rightist" and more "conservative," and the Rawlingsists "populist" and "progressive." In practice, however, the traditions are less distinguishable by ideological orientation than by dominant personalities and ethnic origins.

Against this background, the opposition call for multiparty democracy had to overcome great odds, not least of which was the intense prejudice of the chairman of the PNDC against political parties. Rawlings strongly believed that party politics had hitherto produced two forms of abuse of power--the "corrupt dictatorship" of the Kofi Abrefa Busia regime (1969-72) and the "arrogant dictatorship" of the Nkrumah (1957-66) and Limann (1979- 81) governments. Nonpartisan, honest, and accountable government would provide an effective antidote to these abuses, he argued. Indeed, Rawlings appeared to have an almost fanatical belief that corruption was at the root of nearly all of Ghana's problems and that, if only it could be stamped out, the country would return to its former prosperity.

In reaction to Rawlings's position, opposition groups, such as the London-based Ghana Democratic Movement and the Campaign for Democracy in Ghana, and individuals within and outside Ghana committed to multiparty democracy grew increasingly desperate as they focused on the single aim of overthrowing the PNDC regime. Between 1983 and 1986, at least a dozen coup plots were uncovered by an efficient and much-feared state security system. At the same time, vigorous debates occurred within the PNDC, radical organizations, and trade unions over the direction of economic policy, the content and form of true democracy, and the desirability of accepting International Monetary Fund ( IMF) support for Ghana's Economic Recovery Program (ERP).

Urban workers and students especially exhibited growing frustration at their inability to influence policy or to express dissent through readily available channels. Many urban workers felt the CDRs did not effectively represent the opinions of workers in the way that the PDCs and the WDCs had done before their reorganization. In general, public criticism of government policy was discouraged. In the face of repeated coup plots and destabilization attempts, which lasted throughout the PNDC period, the regime was eager to retain tight control of the political situation, and an independent press had difficulty surviving. All the same, the PNDC was clearly aware of the urgent need for the government to provide genuine democratic channels and institutions to enable workers, students, professional bodies, and other interest groups to express dissent and to provide constructive criticism of government policy. There was, therefore, a concerted effort to transform the CDRs and other revolutionary organs into real instruments of grass-roots democracy. The implementation of the government decentralization program and the establishment of district assemblies were likewise aimed at furthering the process of genuine popular democratization.

Ghana - Interest Groups and National Politics

Among the politically active and influential organizations and interest groups are the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), the Catholic Bishops Conference (CBC), the Ghana Journalists Association, the National Union of Ghanaian Students (NUGS), the regional houses of chiefs, and the National House of Chiefs. Because political parties in Ghana have been weak and the national political system itself has been unstable, the enduring nature of some of these firmly established interest groups has often substituted for political stability. As a result of their stabilizing and quasi-political institutional role, interest groups such as the CBC, the CCG, and the GBA have exerted enormous influence on national policy. The relationship between incumbent governments and these powerful interest groups has never been easy, however; the government has invariably tried to co-opt or to control, if not to intimidate, the leadership of these urban-based organizations.

Of all politically active organizations, the TUC has always had the largest following, with a total membership in the early 1990s of more than 500,000. This figure includes workers and salaried employees in the public and the private sectors who are members of the seventeen unions that are affiliated with the TUC. Since independence, successive governments have made repeated attempts to control it. Rawlings enjoyed the support of the TUC during the first two years of PNDC rule, but the stringent austerity measures introduced in the ERP in 1983 led to discontent among union members adversely affected by devaluation, wage restraints, and lay-offs. By 1985 the original support enjoyed by the PNDC in labor circles had all but disappeared. The PNDC worked hard to regain union support, however, and the National Democratic Congress government of the Fourth Republic has continued to woo the unions through tripartite consultations involving itself, the TUC, and employers.

From the inception to the end of PNDC rule in 1992, the CCG, the CBCA, the GBA, NUGS, and the National House of Chiefs played prominent roles in the transition to democracy. These organizations took the provisional nature of the PNDC regime quite literally, calling for a quick return to democratic national government. Although NUGS and the GBA consistently demanded a return to multiparty democracy, the CCG, the CBC, and the national and regional houses of chiefs favored a nonpartisan national government. While the NUGS and GBA leadership used methods that frequently provoked confrontation with the PNDC, the CBC and the national and regional houses of chiefs preferred a more conciliatory method of political change, emphasizing national unity.

The CCG, the CBC, and the national and regional houses of chiefs function openly as independent national lobbies to promote common rather than special interests. They insist on negotiation and mediation in the management of national disputes, and they advocate policy alternatives that stress the long-term needs of society. In the past, they have taken bold initiatives to attain the abrogation of state measures and legislation that violate human rights or that threaten law and order. All three bodies share a commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and the creation of political institutions that reflect Ghanaian cultural traditions.

The GBA, like the other professional associations in Ghana, is concerned, among other things, with maintaining the dignity of the legal profession through a code of professional ethics and with promoting further learning and research in the profession. The main objectives of the GBA according to its constitution include the defense of freedom and justice, the maintenance of judicial independence, and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as defined under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. These objectives, by definition, have inevitably pitted the GBA against both military regimes and one-party governments, which on their part have considered the GBA at best a necessary evil. NUGS and its national executive, representing the more than 8,000 students of Ghana's three universities in Accra-Legon, Kumasi, and Cape Coast are among the most vocal and articulate pressure groups in Ghana. By reason of their higher education, in a largely illiterate society, students have often been in a position to agitate for far-reaching political, economic, and social change. Indeed, students have been in the forefront of political activism in Ghana since independence. NUGS was most vocal in its support of Rawlings and the PNDC in 1982, but this changed as the PNDC adopted policies that NUGS considered to be against the welfare of students in particular and of Ghanaians in general.

The CCG, another vocal and influential interest group, was founded in 1929. The CCG's principal function is advisory; it acts through consultation among its member churches. The CCG operates through several committees, including education, social action (national affairs), and literacy campaigns. The CCG is a member of the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical bodies, and it is a strong advocate of human rights.

The CBC, the highest local unifying authority of the Roman Catholic Church in Ghana, dates to 1950, although the church itself has been in Ghana since the fifteenth century. The CBC has established a Joint Social Action Committee for cooperation between it and the CCG.

The National House of Chiefs and the ten regional houses of chiefs represent more than 32,000 recognized traditional rulers who exercise considerable influence throughout Ghana, especially in the countryside. As trustees of communal lands and natural resources, chiefs are often the pivot around which local socio-economic development revolves. The 1992 constitution, like all previous constitutions, guarantees the institution of chieftaincy together with its traditional councils as established by customary law and usage. To preserve their role as symbols of national unity, however, chiefs are forbidden from active participation in party politics.

Ghana - District Assembly Elections

The main political preoccupations of the PNDC and the Ghanaian public in 1988 were the implementation of the government's decentralization program and the elections to the new District Assemblies (DAs). In a speech commemorating his fifth year in power in January 1987, Rawlings had announced proposals for the decentralization of government. These had included promises of elections for DAs and a national debate on the ERP. The debate on the ERP never materialized, but debates on the elections and the DAs did.

Among the radical changes introduced in local government elections were provisions that no cash deposits were required of candidates for district level elections and that illiteracy in English was no longer a disqualification. To accommodate nonEnglish speakers in the DAs and to make assembly debates accessible to the majority of constituents, local languages could be used in the DAs. The elections were to be nonpartisan: the ban on political parties was not lifted. Implementation of the decentralization program and preparation for the district elections did not completely silence the opposition nor did it remove the sources of public discontent and disaffection toward the government within some sections of the Ghanaian population.

In 1988 there was no indication of what political structures and institutions would be established above the DAs at regional and national levels. Nor was it clear whether creation of the DAs was intended to broaden the civilian support base of the PNDC, thereby legitimizing and perpetuating PNDC rule indefinitely. Some felt that the word "provisional" in the regime's name sounded a bit hollow after five years in power. Indeed, many read the proposed district elections as a strategy similar to the union government proposal in 1978 that had not been implemented because of its widespread unpopularity.

In February 1988, Adu Boahen, a retired history professor and later a presidential candidate and Rawlings's main challenger, delivered three lectures in which he severely criticized military rule in Ghana and the PNDC regime in particular as the cause of political instability. He affirmed that the AFRC led by Rawlings in 1979 was completely unnecessary. He attacked the alleged domination of the PNDC regime and of major national institutions by the Ewe and called for an interim coalition government within a year and for a return to multiparty democracy by 1992. The state-owned national media attacked Boahen's criticism of the PNDC but did not report the original text of the lectures.

For the DA elections, the country was divided into three zones by region. Zone one consisted of Western Region, Central Region, Ashanti Region, and Eastern Region; zone two, of Upper East Region, Upper West Region, and Northern Region; zone three, of Greater Accra Region, Volta Region, and Brong-Ahafo Region. The first round of the nonpartisan elections took place on December 6, 1988, in zone one of the country, with polling in zones two and three following on January 31 and February 28, 1989, respectively. District election committees disqualified several candidates in a number of districts for various offenses, including nonpayment of taxes, refusal to participate in communal labor, and shirking other civic responsibilities. With an estimated average turnout rate of about 60 percent of registered voters (some rural districts had a 90 percent turnout), the highest for any election in two decades, most Ghanaians saw this first step toward the establishment of national democratic institutions as quite successful. The opposition, although critical of the composition of the DAs, accepted the assemblies in principle.

The DAs gave new momentum to the exercise of grass-roots democracy as well as to local determination of and implementation of development projects. The principle of nonpartisan, decentralized political structure proved popular. By-laws passed by the DAs had to be deposited with the PNDC secretariat immediately after their passage. If within twenty-one days the PNDC raised no objection to them, they automatically became law.

Some elected representatives, a majority of whom were farmers and school teachers, resented the fact that PNDC appointees, mostly chiefs and professionals who constituted one-third of the memberships of the DAs, often sought to dominate the proceedings. Also, most of the districts and their people were poor, and the DAs' quick resort to taxes and numerous levies to raise much needed revenue proved burdensome and unpopular. In some parts of country, for example Cape Coast and Accra, there were protests and tax revolts. In August 1989, regional coordinating councils were formed in all ten regions to streamline the work of the DAs and to coordinate district policies and projects. The PNDC made it clear that DAs had no power to collect or to levy income taxes.

Ghana - Charting the Political Transition

The inauguration of the DAs removed some of the political pressures on the PNDC, but political ferment continued in some sectors of the population. So, too, did the arrest and detention of leading opponents of the PNDC regime. The most publicized of the latter was the arrest and detention in September 1989 of Major Courage Quarshigah, ex-commandant of the Ghana Military Academy and a former close ally of Rawlings. He was accused of leading an attempted coup and of an alleged plot to assassinate Rawlings.

A new phase of the political struggle of the opposition against the PNDC opened in January 1990 when the GBA called on the PNDC to initiate immediately a referendum that would permit the Ghanaian people to determine openly the form of constitutional government they wished for themselves. In his end- of-year message in 1989, Rawlings had promised that the government would strengthen participatory democracy at the grass-roots level. He also proposed that the NCD initiate nationwide consultations with various groups to determine the country's economic and political future. These consultations consisted of a series of seminars, in all ten regional capitals, that ran from July 5 to November 9, 1990, at which the public was invited to express its views.

Meanwhile, the CBC issued a communiqué calling for a national debate on Ghana's political future. On July 24, the Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guards (KNRG) issued a statement calling for a return to multiparty democracy, for the lifting of the ban on political parties, and for the creation of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution to be approved by a national referendum. On August 1, the KNRG, other opposition organizations, and some prominent Ghanaians formed the Movement for Freedom and Justice (MFJ). Adu Boahen was named interim chairman. The MFJ identified the restoration of multiparty democracy and the rule of law in Ghana as its main objectives. Its leaders immediately complained about harassment by the security agencies and about denial of permits to hold public rallies by the police.

Debate about the country's political future dominated 1991. In his broadcast to the nation on New Year's Day, Rawlings outlined steps toward the next stages in the country's political evolution, which included issuance of an NCD report on what form of democracy Ghanaians preferred. The PNDC made it clear that it did not favor multiparty democracy, although its spokesmen indicated that the PNDC had an open mind on the matter. The MFJ immediately called for a constituent assembly, where all parties, including the PNDC, would submit proposals for Ghana's constitutional future. Meanwhile, the PNDC unveiled a statue of J.B. Danquah, Nkrumah's political opponent, after an announcement in 1990 that it would build a statue and a memorial park for Nkrumah. This was a clear attempt to placate and to woo both the Ghanaian "political right" and Nkrumahists of the "left" simultaneously.

In late March, the NCD presented its findings on "true democracy" to the PNDC. After receiving the NCD report, the PNDC announced in May that it accepted the principle of a multiparty system. In its response to the NCD report, the PNDC pledged to set up a committee of constitutional experts that would formulate the draft constitutional proposals to be placed before a national consultative assembly. The committee came into being in May. A 258- member National Consultative Assembly was elected in June with the task of preparing a draft constitution for submission to the PNDC not later than December 31, 1991. The PNDC was then to submit the draft constitution to a national referendum, after which, if approved, it was to enter into force on a date set by the PNDC.

In August Rawlings announced that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held before the end of 1992 and that international observers would be allowed. By the end of 1991, however, the PNDC had not announced when the ban on political parties would be lifted, although many individuals and organizations, such as the Kwame Nkrumah Welfare Society, the Friends of Busia and Danquah, and the Eagle Club, had formed or reemerged and were active as parties in all but name. Despite persistent acrimony surrounding the management and control of the transition process, the PNDC appointed an independent Interim National Electoral Commission in February 1992. The commission was responsible for the register of voters, the conduct of fair elections, and the review of boundaries of administrative and electoral areas.

In a nationwide radio and television broadcast on March 5 marking the thirty-fifth anniversary of Ghana's independence, Rawlings officially announced the following timetable for the return to constitutional government: presentation of the draft constitution to the PNDC by the end of March 1992; a referendum on the draft constitution on April 28, 1992; lifting of the ban on political parties on May 18, 1992; presidential elections on November 3, 1992; parliamentary elections on December 8, 1992; and the inauguration of the Fourth Republic on January 7, 1993.

The PNDC saw the constitutional referendum as an essential exercise that would educate ordinary Ghanaians about the draft constitution and that would create a national consensus. The PNDC opposition urged its supporters and all Ghanaians to support the draft constitution by voting for it. In the April 1992 national referendum, the draft constitution was overwhelmingly approved by about 92 percent of voters. Although the turnout was lower than expected (43.7 percent of registered voters), it was higher than that of the 1978 referendum (40.3 percent) and that of the 1979 parliamentary elections (35.2 percent). The new constitution provided that a referendum should have a turnout of at least 35 percent, with at least 70 percent in favor, in order to be valid.

After lifting of the ban on party politics in May, several rival splinter groups or offshoots of earlier organizations, notably the so-called Nkrumahists and Danquah-Busiaists, as well as new groups, lost no time in declaring their intention to register as political parties and to campaign for public support. In June the Washington-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which had sent a team to Ghana to observe the April referendum, issued a report recommending re-registration of voters as quickly as possible if Ghana were to have truly competitive presidential and parliamentary elections. The foundation claimed that the total number of registered voters--8.4 million--was improbable. Given an estimated national population of about 16 million--of whom about half were under age fifteen--the Foundation concluded that with a voting age of eighteen, the total registrable population ought not to be above 7.75 million.

This discovery fueled a persistent opposition demand to reopen the voters' register, but constraints of time, technology, and money made such an effort impossible. Instead, the Interim National Electoral Commission embarked on a "voters' register cleansing." Only about 180,000 names were removed from the referendum register, however, leaving the total registered voters at 8.23 million, a statistical impossibility, the opposition insisted. Estimates put the actual number of registered voters at about 6.2 million, making the 3.69 million turn-out at the referendum an adjusted 59.5 percent.

Ghana - Presidential Elections

Despite protests and demands for a new voters' register, which had not been met when nominations for presidential candidates for the November 3 elections closed on September 29, 1992, five presidential candidates representing five political parties filed their nomination papers. Apart from Rawlings, who after months of uncertainty decided to run as a candidate for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the other four presidential candidates were Adu Boahen of the New Patriotic Party (NPP); Hilla Limann, former president of Ghana, of the People's National Convention (PNC); Kwabena Darko, a multimillionaire businessman, of the National Independence Party (NIP); and Lieutenant General (retired) Emmanuel Erskine, of the People's Heritage Party (PHP). The PNC, the NIP, and the PHP were all Nkrumahists. A much discussed alliance among these fractious and disorganized parties did not materialize, even though just before the elections there was talk of a possible grand anti-Rawlings coalition.

The real issue of the 1992 presidential election was whether Rawlings would succeed in holding on to power as a democratically elected head of state after nearly eleven years as an unelected one. The slogan of the NDC was "continuity," meaning the continuity of PNDC policies. In fact, to many Ghanaians, the NDC party was the same as the PNDC without the initial "P." The opposition, by contrast, could not articulate a clear, consistent, and convincing alternative program.

The most serious challenge to Rawlings came from Boahen, who had significant support among the urban middle classes and among his ethnic kin in Ashanti Region. The inevitable split of the Nkrumahist vote weakened the chances of each of the three Nkrumahist candidates. Darko was hardly known outside Kumasi and Accra, and Limann was popularly seen as a weak and dull leader. Erskine was hardly a household word, even in Central Region where he came from. The presidential election was not fought over ideology or clearly presented political programs, but rather over personalities, over Rawlings's human rights record, and over allegations that he had been in power for too long.

After elections in 200 constituencies (sixty new electoral constituencies had been added to the old 140) on November 3, 1992, Rawlings won a convincing majority over all his opponents combined. The margin of victory surprised not only Rawlings, but his political rivals as well. The hoped-for run-off election did not materialize because Rawlings had gained an outright majority of almost 60 percent of the nearly 4 million votes cast.

Rawlings won resoundingly in regions where his opponents, especially Boahen, had been expected to carry the day. Boahen received 30.4 percent of the total votes; Limann, 6.7 percent; Darko, 2.8 percent; Erskine, 1.7 percent; and Rawlings, 58.3 percent. Rawlings even won 62 percent of the vote in Brong-Ahafo Region, which was considered a stronghold of the Danquah-Busia political tradition. He also won in the Greater Accra Region, where NUGS, the GBA, the TUC, and the middle-class opposition had been unsparing in their anti-PNDC attacks. Boahen received a majority vote in his NPP heartland, Ashanti Region, and in the Eastern Region where he was born.

A public opinion poll conducted in late 1990 and early 1991 in Accra, Kumasi, and Sekondi-Takoradi indicated some of the reasons for Rawlings's victory. The poll suggested that, in spite of the PNDC's record of human rights abuses and the negative impact of the ERP, the PNDC was more popular in urban areas than had been thought. The PNDC was perceived as having done much to rehabilitate the country's infrastructure, to instill national pride, and to improve the efficiency and honesty of government spending. Although many of the respondents felt that their standard of living had worsened since the PNDC came to power and since the implementation of the Structural Adjustment Program, a significant number also indicated that they and the country would have been worse off without the ERP. Although many considered the PNDC too authoritarian, Rawlings personally continued to be very popular and received much of the credit for the PNDC's successes, while the PNDC as a whole was blamed for its more negative characteristics.

The shock of the NPP's electoral defeat led immediately to disturbances in some regional capitals. A curfew was imposed in Kumasi, but in most of the country, the results were accepted without incident. The opposition parties, however, immediately protested, crying fraud as well as rigging of the ballot and asking the interim electoral commission not to declare a winner until allegations of irregularities had been investigated. On November 10, however, the commission formally declared Rawlings the winner.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties had announced their intention to boycott the parliamentary elections rescheduled from December 8 to December 29, following an appeal to the interim electoral commission. Efforts to get the opposition to reconsider its boycott proved unsuccessful, even after the National House of Chiefs announced in late November that it felt the presidential election had been fair and free. Many European ambassadors in Accra likewise announced that they had no difficulty recognizing Rawlings's victory. International election monitoring teams from the Organization of African Unity, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Carter Center in the United States also endorsed the results of the presidential election, although with reservations in some cases.

Ghana - Parliamentary Elections

The PNDC indicated that it intended to proceed with parliamentary elections with or without the opposition parties. In a gesture to its opponents, however, the PNDC extended the deadline for all parties to register independent candidates, but opposition party officials threatened to deal severely with any party member who ran as an independent candidate. Amid sporadic political violence--some of it linked to the opposition, arrests of members of opposition groups by state security officers, and accusations of PNDC intimidation and harassment by the four opposition parties boycotting the elections, parliamentary elections were held on December 29, 1992, without participation of the opposition parties.

Ironically, in boycotting the parliamentary elections, the opposition offered the PNDC the continuity it had been vigorously campaigning for and undermined any possibility of multiparty parliamentary democracy in the first term of the Fourth Republic. At the close of nominations for the elections on December 1, the NDC was unopposed in fifteen of the 200 constituencies. Only five candidates from the four main opposition parties had registered. According to the Interim National Electoral Commission, of the 7.3 million registered voters, more than 2 million voted on election day. The supporters of the four opposition parties stayed away, as did many NDC supporters, who felt that an NDC landslide victory was a foregone conclusion. The number of registered voters excluded twenty-three constituencies where the candidates were elected unopposed, so that the turnout represented 29 percent of voters in 177 constituencies. The NDC swept the board, winning 189 of the 200 parliamentary seats, including the twenty-three who were elected unopposed. Two other parties allied with the NDC in what was called the Progressive Alliance--the National Convention Party and the Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere Party--won eight seats and one seat, respectively. The remaining two seats were captured by two independent women candidates, part of a group of sixteen women elected to parliament, the largest number ever in Ghana.

In the presidential election, almost 4 million out of nearly 8.3 million registered voters had cast their votes in all 200 constituencies combined, for a turnout of 48 percent. The total votes cast in the parliamentary elections represented 51.5 percent of the votes cast in the presidential election. The opposition parties were quick to ascribe the low turnout to the effectiveness of their boycott. But the low turnout was also explained in part by the absence of real issues and the fact that many people chose to stay at home to enjoy their Christmas holidays.

Rawlings and the NDC won the elections because the opposition was divided for the most part and failed to present a credible alternative to the PNDC. The programs on which the opposition campaigned did not differ substantially from those the PNDC had been implementing since 1983. The opposition parties, for example, advocated a free enterprise economy, political decentralization, rural development, and liberal democracy, measures already on the PNDC agenda.

When internal and external pressures in line with political reforms occurring elsewhere on the continent persuaded Rawlings to return to multiparty democracy at the national level, he could do so without taint of corruption. Despite a record flawed by widespread human rights abuses in the early years of the Revolution, he had demonstrated genuine concern for the well-being of the people of Ghana.

Rawlings also won because, as head of state for more than a decade, his name had become a household word, and he was able to exploit the advantages of incumbency. He had won favor with a wide range of interest groups, influential chiefs, and local leaders. Rawlings had behind him a well-established nationwide network of CDRs, the 31st December Women's Movement, other so-called revolutionary organs, and dedicated district secretaries and chiefs for the propagation of his message. All these bodies and groups had been active long before the fractious political parties, the rival leaders of which were hardly known beyond the major cities, had struggled into existence. Finally, Rawlings won because of widespread belief in his personal sincerity and integrity.

Ghana - THE FOURTH REPUBLIC

The 1992 Constitution

The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana that came into effect on January 7, 1993, provides the basic charter for the country's fourth attempt at republican democratic government since independence in 1957. It declares Ghana to be a unitary republic with sovereignty residing in the Ghanaian people. Drawn up with the intent of preventing future coups, dictatorial government, and oneparty states, it is designed to foster tolerance and the concept of power-sharing. The document reflects the lessons drawn from the abrogated constitutions of 1957, 1960, 1969, and 1979, and it incorporates provisions and institutions drawn from British and United States constitutional models.

The 1992 constitution, as the supreme law of the land, provides for the sharing of powers among a president, a parliament, a cabinet, a Council of State, and an independent judiciary. Through its system of checks and balances, it avoids bestowing preponderant power on any specific branch of government. Executive authority is shared by the president, the twenty-five member Council of State, and numerous advisory bodies, including the National Security Council. The president is head of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces of Ghana. He also appoints the vice president.

Legislative functions are vested in the National Parliament, which consists of a unicameral 200-member body plus the president. To become law, legislation must have the assent of the president, who has a qualified veto over all bills except those to which a vote of urgency is attached. Members of parliament are popularly elected by universal adult suffrage for terms of four years, except in war time, when terms may be extended for not more than twelve months at a time beyond the four years.

The structure and the power of the judiciary are independent of all other branches of government. The Supreme Court has broad powers of judicial review; it rules on the constitutionality of any legislative or executive action at the request of any aggrieved citizen. The hierarchy of courts derives largely from British juridical forms. The hierarchy, called the Superior Court of Judicature, is composed of the Supreme Court of Ghana, the Court of Appeal (Appellate Court), the High Court of Justice, regional tribunals, and such lower courts or tribunals as parliament may establish. The courts have jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters.

The legal system is based on the constitution, Ghanaian common law, statutory enactments of parliament, and assimilated rules of customary (traditional) law. The 1992 constitution, like previous constitutions, guarantees the institution of chieftaincy together with its traditional councils as established by customary law and usage. The National House of Chiefs, without executive or legislative power, advises on all matters affecting the country's chieftaincy and customary law.

The 1992 constitution contains the most explicit and comprehensive provisions in Ghana's postcolonial constitutional history regarding the system of local government as a decentralized form of national administration. These provisions were inspired to a large extent by current law and by the practice of local government under the PNDC. Another constitutional innovation is the enshrinement of fundamental human rights and freedoms enforceable by the courts. These rights include cultural rights, women's rights, children's rights, the rights of disabled persons, and the rights of the ill. The constitution also guarantees the freedom and independence of the media and makes any form of censorship unconstitutional. In addition, the constitution protects each Ghanaian's right to be represented by legitimately elected public officials by providing for partisan national elections and nonpartisan district elections.

Every citizen of Ghana eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote. The right to form political parties is guaranteed, an especially important provision in light of the checkered history of political parties in postcolonial Ghana. Political parties must have a national character and membership and are not to be based on ethnic, religious, regional or other sectional divisions.

Finally, highly controversial provisions of the constitution indemnify members and appointees of the PNDC from liability for any official act or omission during the eleven years of PNDC rule. These provisions seem designed to prevent the real possibility of retribution, should a new government hostile to the PNDC replace it, and to foster a climate of peace and reconciliation.

Ghana - The Judiciary

Since independence in 1957, the courts system, headed by the chief justice, has demonstrated extraordinary independence and resilience. The structure and jurisdiction of the courts were defined by the Courts Act of 1971, which established the Supreme Court of Ghana (or simply the Supreme Court), the Court of Appeal (Appellate Court) with two divisions--ordinary bench and full bench, and the High Court of Justice (or simply the High Court), a court with both appellate and original jurisdiction. The act also established the so-called inferior and traditional courts, which, along with the above courts, constituted the judiciary of Ghana according to the 1960, 1979, and 1992 constitutions.

Until mid-1993, the inferior courts in descending order of importance were the circuit courts, the district courts (magistrate courts) grades I and II, and juvenile courts. Such courts existed mostly in cities and large urban centers. In mid-1993, however, Parliament created a new system of lower courts, consisting of circuit tribunals and community tribunals in place of the former circuit courts and district (magistrate) courts. The traditional courts are the National House of Chiefs, the regional houses of chiefs, and traditional councils. The traditional courts are constituted by the judicial committees of the various houses and councils. All courts, both superior and inferior, with the exception of the traditional courts, are vested with jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters. The traditional courts have exclusive power to adjudicate any cause or matter affecting chieftaincy as defined by the Chieftaincy Act of 1971.

Judicial appointments are made by the chief justice on the advice of the independent Judicial Council of Ghana and are subject to government approval. The PNDC Establishment Proclamation abolished the Judicial Council, but it was reestablished by the 1992 constitution.

Ghana also has quasi-judicial agencies and institutions. Examples of these are the Reconciliation Committee of the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, provision for private hearings at home, and the use of various spiritual agencies, such as shrines, churches, Muslim mallams, and specialists in the manipulation of supernatural powers to whom many ordinary people resort.

Noteworthy for both the colonial and the postcolonial periods up to the present are the special courts, public tribunals, politico-military bodies such as asaf companies, and vigilante groups. These bodies exercise quasijudicial , extra-judicial, and law enforcement functions that often complement, and in some cases attempt to supplant, the functions of the regular or traditional courts.

Of these special courts, the former public tribunals deserve special mention. With the initiation of the 31st December 1981 Revolution, the PNDC established a number of judicial institutions intended to check abuse and corruption within the regular courts. These special courts, called people's courts or public tribunals, were established in August 1982 as a separate system for administering justice alongside the country's regular courts. Their purpose was to regulate the administration of justice to prevent frivolous abuse of court powers and to obtain the truth by concentrating on the facts of the case rather than on questions of law.

The public tribunals, which consisted of the National Public Tribunal, regional public tribunals, and district and community public tribunals, were an attempt to "democratize" the administration of justice by making it possible for the public at large to participate actively in judicial decision making. They were also meant to correct perceived deficiencies of the regular courts, to enhance the general accessibility of law to the common people, to promote social justice, and to provide institutional safeguards that would secure public accountability. The right of appeal against the verdict of the tribunals was not originally provided for until public outcry led to the introduction of appeals procedures in 1984.

Under the PNDC, the public tribunals exercised only criminal jurisdiction. They dealt with three categories of offenses against the state: criminal offenses referred to them by the PNDC government, certain offenses under the country's Criminal Code, and offenses listed in the Public Tribunals Law of 1984. Proceedings of the tribunals were generally public and swift; sentences were frequently harsh and included death by firing squad. Under the Public Tribunals Law of 1984, without prejudice to the appellate system set out in the law itself, no court or other tribunal could question any decision, order, or proceeding of a public tribunal.

The creation of public tribunals and the PNDC's violent attack on lawyers set the PNDC on a collision course with the Ghana Bar Association, which forbade its members to sit on public tribunals. Many of the rulings of the public tribunals were cited by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations as violations of such rights as freedom of the press and habeas corpus. Under the Fourth Republic, the public tribunals were incorporated into the existing court hierarchy.

Ghana - The Civil Service

The civil service, an integral part of the executive branch of government, is a major component of the public services of Ghana, which come under supervision of the Public Services Commission. Ghana's civil service is organized along British lines and constitutes one of the most enduring legacies of British colonial rule. The 1992 constitution provides that the president, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Services Commission, appoint a public officer to head the civil service.

The civil service is Ghana's single largest employer, and its union is large and strong. It recruits graduates of Ghana's three universities and other educational institutions through a system of competitive examinations. Staffing of the civil and the public services with competent personnel is the principal function of the Public Services Commission, which serves as the government's central personnel agency.

The Office of the Head of Civil Service includes a large team of administrators, executive and management analysts, and other technical experts. These officials supervise a hierarchy of graded personnel working in such areas as health, agriculture, transportation and communications, and local government. Working in cooperation with them are other state bodies such as the Chieftaincy Secretariat, Audit Service, Public Services Commission, and the Ghana Cocoa Board. Since the launching in 1983 of the ERP, an austere economic program that the NDC government of the Fourth Republic continues to implement, the civil service has been cut drastically. Despite the retrenchment, civil servants have not engaged in organized protests or strikes, despite threats to do so.

Ghana - The Media

The Ghanaian government owns the only two major daily newspapers, the Daily Graphi (known as the People's Daily Graphi under the PNDC) and the Ghanaian Time with 1994 daily circulations of 80,00-100,000 and 60,000-70,000, respectively (circulation varies according to the availability of newsprint). The other daily, The Pionee, established in 1930, is an independent paper with a circulation of about 30,000. There are also a number of weekly newspapers with substantial circulations, including the independents, the ChristianMessenge and the Standar, and the state-owned Sunday irro and Weekly Spectato, the latter two with 1994 circulations of 85,000 and about 90,000, respectively. A number of state-owned and independent periodicals appear in English and in African languages.

The 1979 constitution, which the PNDC suspended after taking power, was the first to give special attention to Ghana's mass media. It prohibited press licensing, outlawed censorship, and guaranteed freedom of expression and equal access to the stateowned media. The constitution also provided for the establishment of an independent press commission, the responsibilities of which included appointing chief executives and boards of directors for the state-owned media, preserving press freedom, and maintaining the highest professional standards.

Under the PNDC, self-censorship was the rule in the media. The government considered it the responsibility of the state-owned media, if not the media in general, to project a good image of the government and to defend government programs and policies. To ensure compliance with this policy, the PNDC hired and dismissed editorial staff and other media personnel of government-owned publications. The Ghana Journalists Association, which acted as a pressure group for the advancement of the professional interests of journalists, had little real influence. The Newspaper Licensing Law, reintroduced by the PNDC in 1983, discouraged or inhibited the establishment and the freedom of private media.

The state-owned media and some of the privately owned local newspapers attacked Ghanaian journalists who worked or wrote for the foreign press, accusing them of supporting or collaborating with organizations opposed to the PNDC. With the suspension of the 1979 constitution, such rights as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association were not guaranteed but were merely granted at the discretion of the PNDC; however, numerous professional and civic organizations and independent newspapers that were non-political were allowed to exist and to operate freely.

The Committee of Experts (Constitution) Law of May 1991, which established the Committee of Experts to draw up proposals for a draft constitution, required that the proposals should assure the freedom and the independence of the media. Accordingly, the 1992 constitution guarantees fundamental human rights and civil liberties, including the freedom and the independence of the media. To protect the independence of the media, the National Media Commission was created in 1993 in accordance with a constitutional provision. The commission, an independent body, is charged with ensuring that all types of media, private as well as state-owned, are free of government control and interference. Under the Fourth Republic, the press has begun to enjoy a significant degree of toleration and freedom of expression.

Ghana - Regional and Local Government

Before the changes in regional and local administration under the PNDC, Ghana had a highly centralized government structure in which local people and communities were little involved in decision making. Local government services were poor and depended largely on funds and personnel provided by the national government in Accra. Since the 31st December 1981 Revolution, however, local government has increasingly benefited from the decentralization of government ministries and from the establishment of district assemblies in 1989.

Ghana is divided into ten administrative regions, each headed by a regional secretary. The ten regions and their regional capitals are: Greater Accra Region (Accra), Eastern Region (Koforidua), Central Region (Cape Coast), Western Region (SekondiTakoradi ), Volta Region (Ho), Ashanti Region (Kumasi), Brong-Ahafo Region (Sunyani), Northern Region (Tamale), Upper East Region (Bolgatanga), and Upper West Region (Wa). After taking power, the PNDC launched a decentralization plan in December 1982 designed to restructure government machinery to promote democracy and greater efficiency. The plan proposed a three-tier system of local government to replace the four-tier system established in 1978.

This early decentralization plan, however, was not implemented. Instead, interim management committees were organized to manage the affairs of the district councils. PNDC district secretaries were appointed chairmen of their respective district councils and were responsible for day-to-day administration. Membership of the interim management committees normally consisted of respected citizens of the district, such as chiefs, headmasters, retired administrators, and teachers. At the lowest levels, local government remained in the hands of village, town, or area development committees; PDCs; and chiefs and their traditional councils, who still wielded considerable influence in most rural areas.

On July 1, 1987, the PNDC launched a three-tier system of local government. The principal innovations of the new system included creating 110 administrative districts to replace the sixty-five districts that had existed before and changing the name District Council to District Assembly. The District Assembly was to be the highest political and administrative authority in each district, with deliberative, executive, and legislative powers; it was responsible for creation of the two lower-level tiers, town or area councils and unit committees, within its jurisdiction.

The membership of the District Assembly included a district secretary appointed by the PNDC. Two-thirds of the members were directly elected by universal adult suffrage on a non-partisan basis; the other third were appointed by the PNDC from the district in consultation with traditional authorities and various associations. Appointed members held office for a maximum of two consecutive terms, that is six years. Elections to the District Assembly were to be held every three years (the 1992 constitution provided for a four-year term and reduced the number of appointed members from one-third to no more than thirty percent of the total membership). The District Assembly was made responsible for the overall development of the district.

A 1990 law ensured that people at the grass-roots level had the opportunity to help make decisions that affected them regardless of their education or socio-economic backgrounds, so long as they were eighteen years or older and were customarily residents of the district. Finally, in each of the ten regions, a Regional Coordinating Council was established consisting of the regional secretary, the deputies of the regional secretaries acting as exofficio members, all district secretaries in the region, and all presiding members of the district assemblies in the region. The 1992 constitution added at least two chiefs to the membership of each council. The functions of the council included the formulation and the coordination of programs through consultation with district assemblies in the region. The council was responsible for harmonizing these programs with national development policies and priorities, and for monitoring, implementing, and evaluating programs and projects within the region.

A local government law passed in 1991 created thirteen submetropolitan district councils and fifty-eight town or area councils under three metropolitan assemblies; 108 zonal councils under four municipal assemblies; and thirty-four urban, 250 town, and 626 area councils under 103 district assemblies. In addition, 16,000 unit committees were established under metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies throughout the country. (District assemblies, of which there are 110, are designated metropolitan and municipal assemblies in metropolitan centers and major cities.) No Urban Council, Zonal Council, or Town Council or Unit Committee has the power to levy any taxes without the approval of the relevant assembly.

The functions of urban, zonal, and town councils include assuming the functions of the former town and village development committees and assisting any person authorized by the assembly to collect revenues due the assembly. In addition, the councils organize annual congresses of the people within their respective jurisdictions to discuss economic development and to raise contributions to fund such development. Membership in urban, zonal, or town councils and in unit committees consists of both elected and appointed people from within the respective jurisdiction.

Each of the ten regions is administered from the regional headquarters or capital by a regional secretary, who is the regional political and administrative head. The regional secretary is supported by metropolitan and municipal secretaries and their metropolitan and municipal assemblies as well as by district secretaries and the district assemblies they head. At the regional headquarters, the regional secretary is assisted by a Regional Consultative Council and a Regional Coordinating Council, both chaired by the regional secretary. The number of administrative districts within regions varies, the Ashanti Region having the most--eighteen, and the Greater Accra Region and the Upper West Region having the fewest--five. The establishment of a district assembly in each region ensured that, with the local people in control of their own affairs, no part of the country would be neglected.

Ghana - POLITICAL DYNAMICS UNDER THE FOURTH REPUBLIC

Launching the Fourth Republic

The coming into force of the new constitution with the inauguration of the Fourth Republic and the installation of Jerry Rawlings as the first popularly elected president of Ghana on January 7, 1993, opened a new chapter in Ghana. In spite of the heat of partisan politics, the country's political climate remained encouragingly peaceful on the whole. There were clear indications that both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and opposition parties and groups as well as the general public were committed to making constitutional democracy work.

The new government faced several challenges in early 1993. One of the most serious, of course, was the problem of persistent and widespread economic hardship. Another was the institutionalization of democratic practice and constitutionalism in a de facto singleparty parliament that resulted from the opposition boycott of parliamentary elections. In boycotting the elections, the main opposition parties, who together received about 40 percent of the total vote in the presidential election, denied themselves not only potential cabinet appointments but also any direct representation in parliament and any opportunity for real power-sharing.

This was regrettable, because throughout Ghana's postindependence history, the legislature has been the weakest of the three branches of government. Without sitting in parliament, the opposition could hardly constitute an effective shadow cabinet or function as a credible government-in-waiting. The creation of a new voters' register and a national individual identification system as called for by the opposition, the need for which Rawlings publicly acknowledged, would also help build a more effective and durable multiparty democracy. A step in this direction came in early 1994 when the National Electoral Commission, created in 1993, set up the Inter-Party Advisory Committee to advise it on electoral issues. This gesture has helped dispel the opposition's view that the electoral commission is a pro-government body.

Since the 1992 elections, the opposition parties, notably the NPP led by Adu Boahen, have sought to prove their commitment to constitutionalism by organizing public rallies, peaceful demonstrations, and press conferences. They have been aided by the emergence of a vigorous private press and by state-controlled media that have sought to report the views of opposition groups. The opposition also has chosen to go to court against alleged breaches of the constitution rather than to resort to confrontation and violence. Indeed, the NPP has urged its supporters to familiarize themselves with their constitutional rights, to criticize the government when it is wrong, and, whenever necessary, to resort to the courts and not to violence.

Such tactics on the part of the opposition are consistent with the principal concerns raised by Rawlings at the inauguration of the Fourth Republic. In his presidential address, Rawlings called for consultation and cooperation with all political groups in the country. He said that the NDC government would continue to reach out to the opposition parties that had boycotted the elections because it was the government's aim to establish a culture of tolerance, consultation, and consensus-building based on mutual respect.

In his address, Rawlings also indicated the basic orientation of his government. He emphasized that the condition of the national economy "must be the foundation of Ghana's democratic aspirations and remained the government's greatest challenge." He noted that his government was determined to continue the Economic Recovery Program (ERP) and that the new constitutional order could not be divorced from the changes brought about by the 31st December 1981 Revolution. In addition, he remarked that he bore no personal grudge against any person or any group (having in mind the pre- and postpresidential election disturbances and violence) and invited others to adopt the same attitude.

Rawlings assured the armed forces that they would remain actively involved in all national endeavors and also indicated that Ghana's role in world affairs would not change. The continuity in domestic, economic, and foreign policy that Rawlings stressed is reflected in the government's ministerial and other appointments. For example, at the end of May 1993, twenty-one of thirty-five ministers had been secretaries under the former PNDC government; many of them held the same portfolios that they had previously held.

Despite some positive steps toward national reconciliation, part of the opposition continued to be distrustful of the new administration. In the view of these critics, the PNDC was still in power, and, accordingly, they referred to the new administration as "P/NDC" or "(P)NDC." Some members of the opposition also saw the new parliament as merely a rubber-stamp of the ruling NDC administration. The reappointment of numerous PNDC secretaries to the new NDC administration as well as the NDC pledge of continuity in economic and social policy confirmed the worst fears of the opposition. The same could be said of a presidential order in January 1993 to the effect that persons who had been in office as PNDC secretaries for ministries, regions, or districts should continue in their offices to avoid the breakdown of the machinery of government. As the opposition was quick to point out, the presidential order technically violated the constitution; however, given the extenuating circumstances created by the postponement of the parliamentary elections, the order was probably unavoidable.

Ghana - Developing Democratic Institutions

The growing importance of the legislative arm of the government in national affairs was reflected in several developments. At the state opening of parliament on April 29, 1993, President Rawlings gave an address in which he emphasized that the contributions of all citizens were necessary in order to achieve the national goals of economic development and social justice. He reminded Ghanaians that the proper forum for political debate under constitutional rule was parliament and called upon the leaders of the parties making up his ruling Progressive Alliance (the NDC, the National Convention Party (NCP), and the Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere (EGLE) Party) to welcome serious dialogue with the opposition outside parliament. Such a move would enable the opposition parties that had boycotted the parliamentary elections to contribute to national political debate. The NPP made its views on national policy heard through invited participation in parliamentary committees, thus attempting to influence debates and particular legislation.

The executive and the legislative branches worked to ensure passage of nine measures that would establish certain major state institutions by the July 7, 1993, deadline stipulated in the constitution. The institutions created were the National Commission on Civic Education, the National Electoral Commission, the District Assemblies Common Fund, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, the Minerals Commission, the Forestry Commission, the Fisheries Commission, the National Council for Higher Education, and the National Media Commission.

The Courts Act of July 6, 1993, incorporated the public tribunals created under the PNDC into the established court system. It defined the jurisdiction of regional tribunals and established lower courts--circuit tribunals and community tribunals--to replace the circuit courts and the district (magistrate) courts. It also established the National House of Chiefs, the regional houses of chiefs, and traditional councils, and it provided that parliament could create other tribunals as the need arose. The tribunals are empowered to try criminal and civil cases. Throughout 1993 and 1994, however, the Judicial Council of Ghana, was working to amend the Courts Act to allow the pre-existing circuit and district courts to hear cases meant for circuit and community tribunals until such time as the new tribunals become fully operational. The establishment of the lower tribunals has been delayed because of lack of staff and of suitable court buildings in all 110 districts, most of which are poor and rural.

Parliament also passed the controversial Serious Fraud Office Bill. This bill established a Serious Fraud Office as a specialized agency of the state to monitor, to investigate, and on the authority of the attorney general, to prosecute fraud and serious economic crimes. According to the bill's proponents, complex fraud and economic crimes were being committed that posed a direct threat to national security and that were possibly linked to illegal drug trafficking, none of which could be adequately investigated and prosecuted under existing law.

Critics of the bill, which included the Ghana Bar Association, saw it as an attempt on the part of the ruling NDC to destroy the NPP, which considered itself the party of business. They also viewed it as containing provisions conflicting directly with constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights to liberty and property. Under the bill's provisions, anyone can be investigated for fraud except the president, in whose case the constitution provides elaborate procedures for impeachment in case of abuse of power and trust.

Parliament's success can be attributed to the leaders of the opposition and the ruling Progressive Alliance, who chose to settle their differences through dialogue and constitutional means rather than through confrontation. The same tendency to operate within the framework of the new constitution applies to the judicial realm as well, where the opposition, especially the NPP, declared itself the principal watchdog and custodian of civil liberties and of the 1992 constitution. This task is consistent with the leading role played by the opposition in the demand for a return to constitutional rule during the PNDC era.

On July 22, 1993, a week after celebrating its first anniversary, the NPP won three major and surprising victories in the Supreme Court. The court, which the opposition believed to be under the control of the executive, upheld two suits filed by the party that sought to nullify certain existing laws and decrees that the NPP claimed conflicted with the 1992 constitution. In the first suit, the court ordered the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation to grant the NPP "fair and equal access to its facilities within two weeks" to enable the party to articulate its views on the 1993 budget in the same manner as the ruling NDC.

In the second judgment, the court ruled that certain sections of Public Order Decree 1972 were inconsistent with the 1992 constitution, which grants the individual the right to demonstrate or to take part in a procession without necessarily obtaining a permit from the police. The NPP had challenged as unconstitutional the arrest and subsequent prosecution of some of its members for demonstrating against the 1993 budget on February 15, 1993. On that day the Accra police had assaulted the demonstrators, severely injuring many of them. The verdict in the NPP suit also applied to the shooting attack on university students by commandos on March 22-23. The students were protesting the government's refusal to meet their demand for an increase in student loans from 90,000 to 200,000 cedis because of a rise in the cost of living. A third suit, which concerned police powers with respect to public assemblies, did not go forward because the law had been repealed.

Two months later, the NPP scored another victory in the Supreme Court when the party sought a declaration to stop the election of district chief executives (DCEs) ahead of anticipated District Assembly elections. The NPP noted that election of DCEs by sitting district assemblies that had only a few months' remaining tenure in office would infringe the letter and the intent of the constitution, which requires that newly elected assemblies, not outgoing assemblies, elect DCEs. The court granted the NPP's application for an interim injunction and ordered the suspension of DCE elections until the court could examine the constitutionality of the elections process. Candidates for election as DCEs had been nominated by President Rawlings. Within a few days, an announcement was made that Rawlings had only appointed acting district secretaries, not DCEs, for all 110 district assemblies; the president's appointees, however, appeared to be mostly the same individuals nominated as DCEs. The opposition then took this matter to the Supreme Court on a charge of unconstitutionality, but the court upheld Rawlings's action in May 1994.

To crown the constitutional victories of the NPP, the Supreme Court ruled at the end of 1993 that December 31, marking the 31st December 1981 Revolution, should no longer be celebrated as a public holiday. The NPP had been particularly outraged when newly elected President Rawlings declared that any interpretation of the 1992 constitution would be subject to the spirit of the June 4, 1979, uprising and the 31st December 1981 Revolution. For the opposition, these events had ushered in the most repressive and bloody decade in the country's postcolonial history, and they had no place in the new democratic constitutional order.

The NPP, after documenting alleged irregularities of the November 1992 presidential elections, consolidated its position as the main opposition party in the country. It presented itself as the "constitutional" party, the objectives of which are to ensure that constitutional rule is established in Ghana and that the private sector becomes the engine of growth and development. Furthermore, at a widely reported press conference in July 1993 marking the first anniversary of the NPP, the party's chairman proclaimed his party's readiness to "do business" with the NDC government.

Doing business with the government did not mean, as many NPP members had feared, that some members of the NPP executive would take posts in the NDC administration. It meant talking face-to-face with the presidency, the legislature, and the judiciary as well as with independent institutions of state. These dealings were intended to enhance the constitutional rights of all Ghanaians and to ensure respect for human rights and proper management of the economy.

The new NPP policy--that of promoting dialogue between the NPP and the government, which began in November 1993--contributed to a reduction of political tension in the country. Unlike some of its West African neighbors that are haunted by political uncertainty and torn by war and civil strife, Ghana continued to enjoy relative peace and political stability. This was true despite the flare-up of interethnic violence and killing in the northern region between the Konkomba and the Nanumba in early 1994, leading to the declaration of a brief state of emergency in the region.

The minor opposition parties of the Nkrumahist tradition, which had boycotted dialogue with the NDC government, also managed after a long period of internal bickering to put their houses in order in anticipation of the 1996 presidential and parliamentary elections. The parties subscribing to the ideals of Nkrumah's Convention People's Party, with the exception of the People's National Convention led by former president Limann, united to form the new People's Convention Party, receiving a certificate of registration in January 1994.

One of the major concerns of the NPP and other opposition parties was the existence in the Fourth Republic of paramilitary groups and revolutionary organs, such as CDRs, which had not been disbanded. In August 1993 all CDRs were put into a new organization known as the Association of Committees for the Defence of the Revolution. This new association was to continue mobilizing the populace for community development and local initiatives within the framework of the 1992 Constitution.

The NPP persisted in its demands for a new voters' register and for national identity cards to ensure free and fair elections in 1996. When President Rawlings suggested that it was cheaper to revise the voters' register than to issue national identity cards, the cost of which would be prohibitive for the government, the NPP threatened to boycott the 1996 elections unless both electoral demands were met. The potential boycott was seemingly averted in February 1994 when the United States pledged to fund the printing of identity cards for voters in the 1996 elections.

The following August the chairman of the National Electoral Commission promised that the commission would take appropriate steps to ensure that the presidential and parliamentary elections in 1996 would be free and fair. These steps were to include the training of some 80,000 party agents as observers. The National Electoral Commission later indicated that identification cards would be issued to voters during registration for a new and revised electoral roll in September 1995. The Commission also favored holding the elections on the same day and felt that Ghanaians living abroad should have the right to vote. Eventually the NDC government promised to ensure that the 1996 elections would be free and fair and that international observers would be allowed.

Meanwhile, on March 22, 1994, the first nonpartisan district level elections to be conducted under the Fourth Republic were successfully held in all but thirteen districts, mostly in the north, where polling was postponed because of interethnic conflicts. About 10,880 candidates, 383 of them women, competed for 4,282 seats in 97 district, municipal, and metropolitan assemblies. The new district assemblies were inaugurated in June 1994, marking another step in the establishment of a democratic system of local government.

By mid-1994, there was general agreement that the government's human rights record had improved considerably. The improvement resulted in part from the activities of the many human rights groups being established in the country. The Ghana Committee on Human and People's Rights, founded by a group of dedicated lawyers, trade unionists, and journalists and inaugurated in January 1991, was perhaps the most prominent of these. Another was the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, a government body established in 1993 designed to deal with human rights issues and violations.

Ghana - FOREIGN RELATIONS

Guiding Principles and Objectives

Ghana's foreign policy since independence has been characterized by a commitment to the principles and ideals of nonalignment and Pan-Africanism as first enunciated by Kwame Nkrumah in the early 1960s. For Nkrumah, nonalignment meant complete independence from the policies and alliances of both East and West and support for a worldwide union of so-called nonaligned nations as a counter to both East and West power blocs. PanAfricanism , by contrast, was a specifically African policy that envisioned the liberation of African peoples from Western colonialism and the eventual economic and political unity of the African continent.

The PNDC, like most of its predecessors, made serious and consistent attempts at the practical application of these ideals and principles, and its successor, the NDC government, promises to follow in the PNDC's footsteps. Under the NDC, Ghana remains committed to the principle of nonalignment in world politics. Ghana is also opposed to interference in the internal affairs of both small and large countries. This is a departure from Nkrumah's foreign policy approach; Nkrumah was frequently accused of subverting African regimes, such as Togo and Côte d'Ivoire, which he considered ideologically conservative. The NDC government, like the PNDC before it, believes in the principle of selfdetermination , including the right to political independence and the right of people to pursue their economic and social development free from external interference. Another feature of NDC rule carried over from the PNDC era is faithfulness to what a leading scholar of Africa has called "one of the most successful neoclassical economic reform efforts supported by the IMF and the World Bank."

The broad objectives of Ghana's foreign policy thus include maintaining friendly relations and cooperation with all countries that desire such cooperation, irrespective of ideological considerations, on the basis of mutual respect and noninterference in each other's internal affairs. Africa and its liberation and unity are naturally the cornerstones of Ghana's foreign policy. As a founding member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), NDC policy is to adhere faithfully to the OAU Charter.

Another important principle of Ghana's foreign policy involves the closest possible cooperation with neighboring countries with which the people of Ghana share cultural history, ties of blood, and economics. The results have included various bilateral trade and economic agreements and permanent joint commissions involving Ghana and its immediate neighbors, sometimes in the face of latent ideological and political differences and mutual suspicion, as well as numerous reciprocal state visits by high-ranking officials. These measures have contributed significantly to subregional cooperation, development, and the reduction of tension.

As an example of Ghana's interest in regional cooperation, the country enthusiastically endorsed formation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975. This organization was created specifically to foster inter-regional economic and political cooperation. It has served as a useful vehicle for contacts with neighboring West African governments and for channeling increased Ghanaian exports to regional markets. Since 1990 ECOWAS has been engaged in a peacekeeping mission in Liberia to which Ghana has contributed a large contingent of troops. Ghana has participated in other international peacekeeping efforts as well, sending soldiers to operations of the United Nations (UN) in Cambodia in 1992-93 and Rwanda in 1993-94.

In August 1994, Rawlings became ECOWAS chairman, a post that had eluded him since the PNDC came to power. He immediately undertook several initiatives to reduce tensions and conflict in West Africa. Notable among them was the Akosombo Accord of September 12, designed to end civil war in Liberia.

Ghana - Relations with Immediate African Neighbors

The NDC government continues to work to improve and to strengthen relations with all of its neighbors, especially Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso (Burkina, formerly Upper Volta). In the early days of PNDC rule, relations with Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, and Nigeria were particularly cool and even antagonistic. By 1994 Ghana's relations with its West African neighbors, especially Côte d'Ivoire and Togo, had improved significantly. Togo and Côte d'Ivoire

In the early 1980s, Côte d'Ivoire and Togo worried that "the Rawlings' fever," the "revolution," might prove contagious. Both countries were headed by long-lived conservative governments faced with potentially dangerous internal and external opposition. The strains in relations among Ghana, Togo, and Côte d'Ivoire have a long history; in Togo's case, they go back to pre-independence days.

After 1918, following the defeat of Germany, the League of Nations divided the German colony of Togoland from north to south, a decision that divided the Ewe people among the Gold Coast, British Togoland, and French Togoland. After 1945, the UN took over the Togoland mandates. During the 1950s, when the independence of Ghana was in sight, demands grew for a separate Ewe state, an idea that Kwame Nkrumah, leader of the Gold Coast independence movement, opposed. Following a UN plebiscite in May 1956, in which a majority of the Ewe voted for union with Ghana, British Togoland became part of the Gold Coast. After Togolese independence in 1960, relations between Togo and Ghana deteriorated, aggravated by political differences and incidents such as smuggling across their common border. At times, relations have verged on open aggression.

During the mid-1970s, Togolese President General Gnassingbe Eyadema for a time revived the claim to a part or all of former British Togoland. Two leading Ewe members from the Volta Region sent a petition to the UN in 1974. By 1976 a Togoland Liberation Movement and a National Liberation Movement for Western Togoland existed and were agitating for separation from Ghana. The Eyadema government publicly backed their demands, although it subsequently agreed to cooperate with the Ghanaian government against the separatist movements and against smuggling. A factor influencing Eyadema's cooperative attitude was doubtless Togo's dependence upon electricity from Ghana's Akosombo Dam.

A consistent preoccupation of Ghana, Togo, and Côte d'Ivoire is that of national security. The PNDC regime repeatedly accused both Togo and Côte d'Ivoire of harboring armed Ghanaian dissidents who planned to overthrow or to destabilize the PNDC. The PNDC also accused both countries of encouraging the smuggling of Ghanaian products and currencies across their borders, thus undermining Ghana's political and economic stability at a time when Ghana was experiencing a deep economic crisis.

In June 1983, when the PNDC was barely eighteen months old, groups opposed to the PNDC made a major attempt to overthrow it. Most of the rebels reportedly came from Togo. In August 1985, Togo in turn accused Ghana of complicity in a series of bomb explosions in Lomé, the Togolese capital. In July 1988, an estimated 124 Ghanaians were expelled from Togo. Nevertheless, relations subsequently improved significantly, leading in 1991 to the reactivation of several bilateral agreements.

Greatly improved relations between Ghana and Togo, especially after October 1990 when opposition pressure forced Eyadema to agree to a transition to multiparty democracy, however, could hardly disguise the persistence of old mutual fears of threats to internal security. For instance, less than three weeks after Ghana's Fourth Republic was inaugurated, an immense refugee problem was created in Ghana. Following random attacks and killings of civilians in Lomé by Eyadema's army on January 26, 1993, hundreds of thousands of terrorized Togolese began fleeing into Ghana. At the end of January, Ghanaian troops were placed on high alert on the GhanaTogo border, although Obed Asamoah, the Ghanaian minister of foreign affairs, assured all concerned that there was no conflict between Ghana and Togo.

Sporadic shooting incidents in the spring continued to produce a regular flow of refugees into Ghana. By May, following Togo's partial closure of the border, all persons living in Togo, including diplomats, had to obtain a special permit from the Togolese interior ministry to travel to Ghana by road. Travelers from Ghana were allowed into Togo but were not permitted to return. By early June, half of Lomé's 600,000 residents were estimated to have fled to neighboring Ghana and Benin.

At the beginning of 1994, relations between Ghana and Togo became even worse. On January 6, a commando attack occurred in Lomé, which Togolese authorities described as an attempt to overthrow Eyadema. The Togolese government accused Ghana of direct or indirect involvement and arrested Ghana's chargé d'affaires in Lomé. Togolese troops then bombarded a border post, killing twelve Ghanaians. Camps for Togolese refugees in Ghana also were reportedly bombarded. The Ghanaian government announced that it would press Togo to compensate the families of those killed. By mid-year, however, relations had improved markedly. In August Togo supported the nomination of Rawlings for the post of ECOWAS chairman. Thereafter, a joint commission was set up to examine border problems, in mid-November a Ghanaian ambassador took up residence in Togo for the first time since the early 1980s, and Togo was considering the reopening of its border with Ghana.

Ghana-Côte d'Ivoire relations suffered from the same ups and downs that characterized Ghana-Togo relations. In early 1984, the PNDC government complained that Côte d'Ivoire was allowing Ghanaian dissidents to use its territory as a base from which to carry out acts of sabotage against Ghana. Ghana also accused Côte d'Ivoire of granting asylum to political agitators wanted for crimes in Ghana. Relations between Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire improved significantly, however, after 1988. In 1989, after fifteen years of no progress, the Ghana-Côte d'Ivoire border redemarcation commission finally agreed on the definition of the 640-kilometer border between the two countries. The PNDC thereafter worked to improve the transportation and communication links with both Côte d'Ivoire and Togo, despite problems with both countries.

By 1992 Ghana's relations with Côte d'Ivoire were relatively good. Hopes for lasting improvement in Ghana's relations with its western neighbor, however, were quickly dashed following some ugly incidents in late 1993 and early 1994. The incidents began on November 1, 1993, with the return of sports fans to Côte d'Ivoire following a championship soccer match in Kumasi, Ghana, that had resulted in the elimination of Côte d'Ivoire from competition. Ghanaian immigrants in Côte d'Ivoire were violently attacked, and as many as forty or more Ghanaians were killed.

Thereafter, scores of other Ghanaians lost their property as they fled for their lives. Some 1,000 homes and businesses were looted. More than 10,000 Ghanaians out of the approximately 1 million living in Côte d'Ivoire were immediately evacuated by the Ghanaian government, and more than 30,000 Ghanaians were reported to have sought refuge in the Ghanaian and other friendly embassies. A twenty-member joint commission (ten from each country) was established to investigate the attacks, to recommend compensation for victims, and to find ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future. In October 1994, the two nations resumed soccer matches after a Togolese delegation helped smooth relations between them.

Ghana - Burkina

With the coming to power of Thomas Sankara in Burkina in 1983, relations between Ghana and Burkina became both warm and close. Indeed, Rawlings and Sankara began discussions about uniting Ghana and Burkina in the manner of the defunct Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union, which Nkrumah had sought unsuccessfully to promote as a foundation for his dream of unified continental government. Political and economic ties between Ghana and Burkina, a poorer country, were strengthened through joint commissions of cooperation and through border demarcation committee meetings. Frequent high-level consultations and joint military exercises, meant to discourage potential dissidents and to protect young "revolutions" in each country, were fairly regular features of Ghana-Burkina relations.

Ethnic ties between the people of far northern Ghana (notably the Mossi) and Burkina, divided by artificial borders inherited from colonial rule, grew stronger as easy border crossings and free exchange of goods and services contributed to marked improvements in the material and the social welfare of peoples on both sides of the border. The PNDC, for example, established road, air, and telecommunications links between Ghana and Burkina.

Ghana's warm relations with Burkina received a serious but temporary setback with the assassination of Sankara in October 1987. His successor, Blaise Campaore, was widely believed to have been responsible for the assassination. As a result, relations between Ghana and Burkina cooled. Rawlings and Campaore met briefly for the first time in early 1988 in Tamale, the capital of Ghana's Northern Region, to discuss Ghana-Burkina relations.

The outbreak of civil war in Liberia in 1989 found the two countries on opposite sides of the conflict. Ghana, at great financial and human cost, immediately repatriated about 10,000 Ghanaians living in Liberia and, beginning in mid-1990, contributed a contingent to a multi-national peace-keeping force second in size only to one sent by Nigeria. From 1990 to 1993, Campaore's role in the Liberian conflict was at odds with an ECOWAS peace initiative spearheaded by Ghana and Nigeria, because Burkina was believed to be supplying arms to Charles Taylor's forces, long regarded as the main obstacle to peace. In 1994 relations between Burkina and Ghana showed signs of warming at a time when Campaore appeared to be reassessing his policies in Liberia and toward Ghana and Nigeria.

Ghana - Nigeria

Ghana's relations with Nigeria, West Africa's leading country, began on a sour note in the early period of PNDC rule. Tension rose immediately after the PNDC deposed Limann in 1981. In protest, Nigeria refused to continue much-needed oil supplies to Ghana. At the time, Ghana owed Nigeria about US$150 million for crude oil supplies and depended on Nigeria for about 90 percent of its petroleum needs. Nigeria's expulsion of more then 1 million Ghanaian immigrants in early 1983, when Ghana was facing severe drought and economic problems, and of another 300,000 in early 1985 on short notice, further strained relations between the two countries.

In April 1988, a joint commission for cooperation was established between Ghana and Nigeria. A bloodless coup in August 1985 had brought Major General Ibrahim Babangida to power in Nigeria, and Rawlings took advantage of the change of administration to pay an official visit. The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues focusing on peace and prosperity within West Africa, bilateral trade, and the transition to democracy in both countries. In early January 1989, Babangida reciprocated with an official visit to Ghana, which the PNDC hailed as a watershed in Ghana-Nigeria relations.

Subsequent setbacks that Babangida initiated in the democratic transition process in Nigeria clearly disappointed Accra. Nonetheless, the political crisis that followed Babangida's annulment of the results of the June 1993 Nigerian presidential election and Babangida's resignation from the army and presidency two months later did not significantly alter the existing close relations between Ghana and Nigeria, two of the most important members of ECOWAS and the Commonwealth of Nations. After the takeover in November 1993 by General Sani Abacha as the new Nigerian head of state, Ghana and Nigeria continued to consult on economic, political, and security issues affecting the two countries and West Africa as a whole. Between early August 1994 when Rawlings became ECOWAS chairman and the end of the following October, the Ghanaian president visited Nigeria three times to discuss the peace process in Liberia and measures to restore democracy in that country.

Ghana - The Organization of African Unity and the Rest of Africa

Beginning with the independence of Ghana in 1957 under Kwame Nkrumah, Pan-Africanism, as a movement uniting all peoples of the African continent, was attempted in earnest. Pan-Africanism became identified with Nkrumah more than with any other African leader. During the period 1950 to 1965, the aim was to achieve political, cultural, and economic integration at the continental level.

Beginning in 1958 with formation of the Ghana-Guinea Union, followed shortly by the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union, Nkrumah relentlessly pursued his goal of a Union of African States. Working with leaders of other independent African countries, he convened a series of conferences to promote the Pan-African cause. Finally, a summit conference met in Addis Ababa in May 1963 to resolve the divisions, unite the leaders, and establish a common Pan-African organization.

After many proposals and counterproposals at the Addis Ababa conference, thirty African heads of states and governments signed the historic Charter of African Unity, which established the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The charter, however, fell far short of Nkrumah's ideal of African continental government. At practically every meeting of the OAU until his overthrow in 1966, Nkrumah continued to campaign vigorously but unsuccessfully for the transformation of the OAU into a continental government of a United States of Africa. Ironically, as independent African states concentrated on domestic problems and internal developments, they found themselves compelled to strengthen ties with their former colonial rulers rather than with each other. In Ghana's case, this meant closer relations with Britain, particularly after the overthrow of Nkrumah.

In recognition of Nkrumah's stature in the Pan-Africanist cause, PNDC chairman Rawlings in June 1985 dedicated the W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Center for Pan-African Culture in Accra. The DuBois center was established to serve as a Pan-African research center and library for scholars and students of Pan-Africanism and to promote research and scholarship in the tradition of the AfricanAmerican scholar, W.E.B. DuBois.

The PNDC made a determined effort to revive Ghana's historical role as a leader in the OAU and in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The PNDC stepped up material and financial assistance and diplomatic support to the OAU Liberation Committee, to the African National Congress in South Africa, and to the South West Africa People's Organization in South West Africa, now Namibia. In 1987 Ghana also became a member of the permanent steering committee of the OAU, which was charged with forging a common African position on the continent's debt problem. The same year Ghana made a substantial financial contribution of US$5 million to the African Fund set up by the Non-Aligned Movement to assist African liberation movements and to strengthen resistance to South African destabilization activities in southern Africa. The PNDC also contributed US$1.3 million annually to the OAU budget. Ghana contributed generously to the OAU's Liberation Fund for Namibia as well as US$5 million to the African Fund for the repatriation of Namibians to enable them to participate in preindependence elections in February 1990.

The PNDC regime sought to strengthen ties with all African countries. Good relations with the countries of eastern and southern Africa were established in the spirit of south-south relations, Pan-Africanism, and nonalignment. In addition to visiting many West African countries, Rawlings traveled to Mozambique in October 1986 for the funeral of Samora Machel. Ghana's contribution of US$250,000 toward famine relief in Mozambique was a practical demonstration of commitment to the principles of the OAU. In late January 1989, Rawlings paid a threeday official visit to Uganda on the occasion of the third anniversary of the government's victory in a long civil war. He also visited Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Ghana's political and diplomatic resurgence in Africa and in world affairs under PNDC leadership was evident from the number of reciprocal visits to promote bilateral ties and cooperation. Among those visiting Ghana between 1987 and 1994 were Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda; Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni; former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, who received Ghana's highest state award, the Order of the Star of Ghana, in recognition of his life-long devotion to Pan-Africanism and the nonaligned movement; Libyan Colonel Muammar al Qadhafi; and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. In September 1994, President Rawlings paid a ten-day visit to Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, signing bilateral agreements in the latter two countries for political cooperation, trade, and industrial development. Ghanaian diplomats are expected to arrive in Pretoria, the Republic of South Africa, in early 1995 to open Ghana's new High Commission.

Ghana - Britain and the Commonwealth

By historical tradition and choice, Ghana's political future has been bound up with that of Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations. Indeed, Nkrumah led the way for independent African states that were former British colonies to join the Commonwealth.

The close bond between Ghana and Britain was evident in 1959 when Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, visited Ghana and received a most friendly reception. At the 1964 Commonwealth Conference, Nkrumah proposed the establishment of a permanent Commonwealth secretariat, in order, as Nkrumah put it, "to make the Commonwealth move in tune with the common aspirations of its members." According to one observer, Nkrumah believed the Commonwealth was an example of how a free association of independent states should work. The Commonwealth provided a vehicle for the transfer of technology and for economic and cultural cooperation. It also served as a place for developing the most effective methods for ending colonialism without revolution or violence and under conditions in which a former colonial territory could retain a close association with the former imperial power.

Nkrumah again took the lead in forcing South Africa out of the Commonwealth in 1961. In 1965 Ghana was forced to break diplomatic relations with Britain in order to support the OAU resolution over Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence and imposition of a white minority government. Relations were restored the next year, however, following the overthrown of Nkrumah.

Following the 31st December 1981 Revolution, Ghana lost its membership in the Commonwealth Parliament Association, which promotes interchange and understanding among parliamentarians of member states. Ghana was readmitted to the Association in September 1993, the same year it was also readmitted to the InterParliamentary Union, another Commonwealth institution. With its readmission to these two bodies, Ghana became an major player in Commonwealth affairs. In May 1994, Ghana hosted a Commonwealth conference on local government that attracted participants from several West African countries. At the end of the year, Ghana remained the only West African Commonwealth country with an elected government, the other three members--Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Gambia--all being under military rule. As a contribution towards Ghanaian democracy, the Commonwealth, along with the OAU and the Carter Center in the United States, provided international observer teams to monitor Ghana's presidential election in November 1992.

Ghana's relations with Britain continued to be generally good under the PNDC. British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mrs. Lynda Chalker, paid a successful official visit to Ghana in early 1987 which resulted in enhanced British aid for Ghana' economic reforms. Since the ERP began in 1983, Britain has given Ghana more than £69 million as balance of payments support. Ghana has reportedly garnered more aid from Britain than any African country except Zimbabwe. Britain, along with other Western countries and international development agencies, also provided much needed technical, logistical, and financial support for the implementation of Ghana's governmental decentralization effort, for the first District Assembly elections in 1988-89, as well as for the presidential and parliamentary elections in 1992.

Ghana - The United States

Ghana has in general enjoyed good relations with the United States since independence, except for a period of strained relations during the later years of the Nkrumah regime. Ghana was the first country to which United States Peace Corps volunteers were sent in 1961. Ghana and the United States are signatories to twenty agreements and treaties covering such matters as agricultural commodities, aviation, defense, economic and technical cooperation, education, extradition, postal matters, telecommunications, and treaty obligations. The refusal of the United States to join the International Cocoa Agreement, given Ghana's heavy dependence on cocoa exports to earn hard currency, is the most serious bilateral issue between the two countries.

Relations between the United States and Ghana were particularly rocky in the early 1980s, apparently because of Ghana's relations with Libya. The PNDC government restored diplomatic relations with Libya shortly after coming to power. Libya came to the aid of Ghana soon afterward by providing much-needed economic assistance. Libya also has extensive financial holdings in Ghana. Rawlings has supported Libya's position that two Libyans accused of bombing a Pan American Airlines flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 should be tried in a neutral country rather than in Britain or the United States.

Relations between the United States and Ghana were further strained by a series of diplomatic incidents in the mid-1980s. In July 1985, a distant relative of Rawlings, Michael Soussoudis, was arrested in the United States and charged with espionage. Despite Soussoudis's conviction, he was exchanged the following December for several known United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents in Accra, but not before diplomats had been expelled in both Accra and Washington. In March 1986, a Panamanian-registered ship carrying arms and a number of mercenaries and United States veterans of the Vietnam War was seized off the coast of Brazil. The PNDC charged that the arms and soldiers were destined for Ghana and that they had been financed by a Ghanaian dissident with links to the CIA. During their trial, several crew members admitted that the charges were substantially true. Although they were convicted and imprisoned, three subsequently escaped with what the PNDC alleged was CIA assistance.

In spite of these incidents, relations between the United States and Ghana had improved markedly by the late 1980s. Former United States president Jimmy Carter visited Ghana in 1986 and again in 1988 and was warmly received by the PNDC. His Global 2000 agricultural program, which is quite popular with Ghanaian farmers, is helping promote good relations with the United States. In 1989 the United States forgave US$114 million of Ghana's foreign debt, part of a larger debt relief effort by Western nations. The United States has strongly favored Ghana's economic and political reform policies, and since the birth of the Fourth Republic and Ghana's return to constitutional rule, has offered assistance to help Ghana institutionalize and consolidate its steps toward democratic governance. In FY 1994, United States development aid totaled about $38 million; in addition, the United States supplied more than $16 million in food aid.

Ghana - Other Countries

After 1981, PNDC foreign policy was designed to promote the country's economic growth and well-being by establishing friendly relations and cooperation with all countries irrespective of their economic and political philosophies or ideological orientation. PNDC policy also sought new markets for Ghana's exports, the expansion of existing markets, and new investment opportunities.

Ghana's relations with Canada were quite good under the PNDC, as were Ghana's relations with the European Community and its member countries. In 1987, as part of its cancellation of the debts of several African countries, Canada canceled a Ghanaian debt of US$77.6 million. In 1989 Germany canceled US$295 million of Ghana's foreign debt, and France canceled US$26 million.

A number of Western countries, including France and Canada, continued to cancel debts in 1991, reflecting the generally cordial relations between Ghana and Western countries and the confidence the West had in PNDC policies. In early July 1991, Rawlings paid a three-day official visit to Paris, which symbolized the close ties that had developed between the PNDC and the French government. Western countries have continued to show keen interest in, and support for, the ERP and Ghana's transition to democratic government.

In line with its commitment to the principles of nonalignment, the PNDC sought to develop close relations with the socialist regimes in Eastern Europe, Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), and China. In the early days of PNDC rule, Rawlings made official visits to China and Ethiopia, the latter then headed by a Marxist-Leninist regime.

During these visits, various economic, trade, and cultural agreements were concluded. Notable was the PNDC agreement with the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) for the improvement of roads in Kumasi, Ghana's second largest city, and for the Kumasi-Accra highway. The GDR also supplied Ghana with new railroad coaches. Barter trade with East European countries, especially the GDR, Romania, and Bulgaria, also increased. The PNDC established a State Committee for Economic Cooperation to ensure more effective cooperation with socialist countries and showed keen interest in developing relations with the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance.

The PNDC policy of restructuring Ghana's education system, moving from purely academic curricula to vocational and technical training, benefited from Ghana's close ties with socialist countries, notably Cuba. By 1985 Cuba was training some 1,000 Ghanaian school children and middle-level technicians. Cuba also offered Ghanaians training in political leadership for "revolutionary organs" and national security. Hundreds of Ghanaian youths left for various socialist countries to pursue professional and technical courses. The Soviet Union, China, and other socialist countries awarded scholarships to Ghanaians for both academic and technical courses. In addition, short-term training was offered for Ghana's Committees for the Defence of the Revolution. Bulgaria provided training in political organization and leadership, and the Soviet Union furnished education in medicine, veterinary sciences, and engineering.

The PNDC believed that Cuba provided a fruitful field for cooperation in areas other than education. The PNDC agreed to a joint commission for economic cooperation and signed a number of scientific and technical agreements with Cuba ranging from cultural exchanges to cooperation in such fields as health, agriculture, and education. Cuba trained Ghana's national militia, gave advice in the creation of mass organizations such as the CDRs, and provided military advisers and medical and security officers for the PNDC leadership. The two countries also signed agreements for the renovation of Ghana's sugar industry and for three factories to produce construction materials. In 1985 Ghana and Cuba signed their first barter agreement, followed by new trade protocols in 1987 and 1988. Cuban medical brigades worked in Tamale in the Northern Region, one of the poorest areas in Ghana. Cubans coached Ghanaian boxers and athletes and taught Spanish in Ghanaian schools.

Ghana's relations with Cuba continue to be strong despite Ghana's return to multiparty democracy and the severe economic crisis in Cuba in 1993 and 1994. A joint commission for cooperation between the two countries meets biennially in the alternate venues of Accra and Havana. Cuba is helping to create a faculty of medical sciences in Ghana's new University of Development Studies at Tamale. At the end of 1994, thirty-three medical specialists were working in Ghanaian hospitals. A bilateral exchange of technology and experts in mining and agriculture was also underway. Cuba is training 600 Ghanaians, mostly in technical disciplines, including engineering, architecture, and medicine. The two countries are engaged in successful business ventures, too, including a first class tourist resort at Ada in the Greater Accra Region and a Ghana-Cuba construction company.

Economic relations between Ghana and Japan are quite cordial, having improved considerably under the PNDC. Japan offered Ghana about US$680 million toward the rehabilitation of its telephone and television services. Following the visit to Japan of a Ghanaian delegation in early 1987, Japan pledged a total of US$70 million toward Ghana's economic development. In early 1994, Japan offered a further US$16.6 million to modernize rail transport and to improve water supply. In October 1994, Ghana joined in urging the UN Security Council to admit Japan and Germany, two countries that in 1993 and 1994 were among Ghana's largest aid donors, in recognition of the international political and economic stature of both countries.

Ghana's relations with the Arab countries were also generally good during the PNDC period, and they remained so under the new NDC administration. Considerable economic assistance flowed into Ghana from the Arab world. Ghana signed loan agreements with the Saudi Arabian Fund for Development for various development projects in Ghana, including the promotion of Islamic education. In early January 1994, loan agreements totaling US$16.5 million from the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development were signed to fund a thermal power plant at Takoradi.

Following the peace accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in September 1993, Ghana reestablished diplomatic relations with Israel in August 1994. Diplomatic relations between the two countries had been broken in 1973 in support of member Arab states of the OAU who were at war with Israel. In urging resumption of diplomatic ties, parliament noted that Ghana stood to gain access to Israeli technology, notably in water engineering and irrigation, sewerage construction, and agriculture.

Finally, in June 1994, a new Ghanaian ambassador presented his credentials to Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow. At the time, the Ghanaian government expressed its hope that democratic restructuring in both Ghana and Russia and the advent of a market economy in Russia would lead to new and diversified bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

Ghana - International Organizations

Ghana belongs to sixteen UN organizations and twenty-four other international organizations, including the Commonwealth. Nkrumah saw the UN as the most effective forum for small, poor countries such as Ghana to exert some influence in a world dominated by more powerful nations. As it had with the Commonwealth, Ghana, a leader among countries of the developing world, sought to enlarge the UN role in economic development and to make it an effective force for world peace. Ghana was also a leader of the African countries that lobbied to advance the cause of freedom in Africa. Nkrumah made the UN Charter a plank of Ghana's foreign policy and helped to make the UN a forum for nonalignment as he maneuvered with other Afro-Asian leaders between East and West. Among Ghanaians who have achieved world prominence in the UN is Kenneth Dadzie, who from 1986 to 1994 was Secretary General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

The PNDC preserved Ghana's commitment to the ideals and objectives of the UN. In recognition of Ghana's strong commitment to African causes and its active involvement in the General Assembly, Ghana became one of the African countries elected to a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council during 1986-87. Ghana has also contributed troops to UN peacekeeping operations around the world, including Iraq-Kuwait (1991), Cambodia (1992-93), and Rwanda (1993-94).

The PNDC also maintained Ghana's active membership in the NonAligned Movement. Indeed, the 1991 diplomatic highlight of the PNDC government was its successful hosting, in Accra in early September, of the tenth ministerial conference of the Non-Aligned Movement. The meeting attracted one of the largest contingents of foreign ministers of all recent African conferences.

Ghana also hosted a well-attended conference of nongovernmental organizations in Accra in late August 1991 as a prelude to the nonaligned conference. The conference concerned itself with economic development, peace, and a just world order.

In honor of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president and a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and of Pan-Africanism, the PNDC commissioned the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and the Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra on July 1, 1992. The remains of the late president were brought from Nkroful, his birthplace, and reinterred in a moving public ceremony. The park and the mausoleum fulfilled a pledge made by the PNDC in 1990 to commemorate Nkrumah's contributions to Ghana and to Africa by means of an appropriate memorial.





CITATION: Federal Research Division of the
Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.


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