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Ghana: The National Liberation Council, 1966-69
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > The Military and the Government > The National Liberation Council, 1966-69


The officer corps of the regular armed forces viewed the activities of the Nkrumah regime with increasing alarm. As a result, on February 24, 1966, a small number of army officers and senior police officials, led by Colonel E.K. Kotoka, commander of the Second Army Brigade at Kumasi, Major A.A. Afrifa, staff officer in charge of army training and operations, Lieutenant General (retired) J.A. Ankra, and J.W.K. Harlley, the police inspector general, successfully launched a coup d'├ętat against the Nkrumah regime. The new government, known as the National Liberation Council (NLC), justified its action by citing Nkrumah's abuse of power, widespread political repression, sharp economic decline, and rampant corruption.

On April 17, 1967, a group of junior officers of the army reconnaissance squadron based at Ho in the Volta region launched a countercoup; however, intervention by other military units and the lack of a coherent plan on the part of the mutineers saved the NLC. After an investigation, the two young lieutenants who commanded the mutiny were tried by a military court, convicted, and executed. The courts also passed lengthy prison sentences on twenty-six of the reconnaissance squadron's noncommissioned officers who supported the coup attempt.

Pro-Nkrumah elements also plotted against the NLC. In late 1968, the authorities arrested Air Marshal M.A. Otu, who had succeeded Kotoka as general officer commanding the armed forces but not as an NLC member, and his aide, a navy lieutenant, for alleged subversive activity. A military court charged both men with plans to overthrow the NLC and to return Nkrumah to power, but eventually the two were acquitted.

There were no further incidents or threats to the NLC. After a civilian government came to power in October 1969, the armed forces reverted to their traditional roles of maintaining internal security and safeguarding territorial integrity.

Data as of November 1994

Last Updated: November 1994

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Ghana was first published in 1994. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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