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Ghana Table of Contents



As of the mid-1990s, there was no external threat against Ghana; however, Ghana has experienced periodic tensions with two West African states, Togo and Liberia, which at the time some observers believed could lead to armed conflict. The parties involved in these disputes avoided hostilities by relying on diplomacy rather than on military force to resolve their problems.

In January 1976, Ghanaian-Togolese relations deteriorated after Togo urged a readjustment of their common border in Togo's favor. Ghana rejected this demand, citing the 1956 United Nations (UN) referendum, which had given western Togoland's population the choice of staying in Togo or of joining Ghana. Nevertheless, in March 1976, the Ghanaian government banned the National Liberation Movement for Western Togoland (NLMWT). Later that month, Ghanaian security forces arrested ten people near Togo's border and charged them with subversion for contacting Ghanaian dissidents in Togo. Although the NLMWT threatened to use force against Ghana unless the UN intervened in the crisis, it failed to launch a successful guerrilla war against Ghana.

In September 1982, Ghana closed the border to prevent Ghanaian dissidents who lived in Togo from crossing into Ghana. Nevertheless, tensions between the two countries resurfaced after Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings seized power in Ghana in 1983. Rawlings warned the Togolese against allowing Ghanaian dissidents to use Togo's territory as a base from which to launch attacks against Ghana. In early 1984, after Ghana had reopened the border, the Togolese government calmed Accra's fears by threatening to arrest any Ghanaian exiles who held meetings in Togo.

In 1986 relations with Togo again deteriorated after Ghanaian security forces captured a group of armed dissidents who had crossed the border from Togo. Ghana's secretary for foreign affairs protested the use of neighboring countries as bases for subversive activities against the Rawlings regime. In September 1986, Lomé claimed that Togolese dissidents, operating from Ghana, had attempted a coup against the government of Togo's president, General Gnassingbe Eyadema. As a result, Togo temporarily closed the border with Ghana and then deported 233 Ghanaians. In January 1989, relations between the two countries became strained again when Togo expelled 120 Ghanaians. After Togo reopened its land, air, and sea borders with Ghana in October 1990, relations between the two countries gradually improved.

On January 30, 1993, clashes that pitted Togolese security forces loyal to Eyadema against several opposition groups prompted approximately 55,000 refugees to flee to Ghana. Accra, which sided with Eyadema's opponents, responded by placing the Ghanaian armed forces on full alert, ostensibly to aid the refugees. Rawlings claimed that because of this trouble, he was considering a recall of all Ghanaian troops serving on missions abroad for the UN and in Liberia. After attackers stormed Eyadema's home in Lomé on March 25, 1993, the Togolese government closed its with Ghana and accused the Rawlings regime of providing a safe haven for the raiders.

In early 1994, the two countries almost went to war following yet another incident. According to Togolese authorities, more than 100 armed Togolese crossed the border from Ghana in early January to assassinate Eyadema and to take control of the government. Togo immediately closed its border with Ghana, and each nation then accused the other's armed forces of launching cross-border raids. Although tensions eased later in the year, the Ghanaian minister of foreign affairs warned of further incidents unless Eyadema introduced basic democratic reforms.

Ghanaian-Liberian relations suffered a setback in September 1989 over rumors that Monrovia planned a forceful repatriation of resident Ghanaians following the return of more than 400 Liberians from Ghana. Although Accra denied that it had deported the Liberians, Monrovia retaliated by expelling 350 Ghanaians. A more serious problem occurred in 1990, when a rebel force known as the National Patriotic Front of Liberia reportedly seized about 2,000 Ghanaians living in Liberia. Many Ghanaians also resented the presence of approximately 6,000 Liberian refugees who had settled in a camp at Bruburam near Accra; they argued that Ghanaian security forces should halt the influx of refugees by detaining them at the border, by force if necessary.

Despite these difficulties, beginning in mid-1990 the Ghanaian government deployed three battalions of troops to Liberia as part of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peace-keeping force. These troops served eight-month tours. In late 1994, about 1,000 Ghanaian troops were still serving in Liberia despite the government's growing impatience with the mission and the lack of progress toward a settlement of the conflict.

The ECOMG operation was but one in a long list of international peacekeeping missions in which Ghana has participated. As early as 1978, Ghana contributed soldiers to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon; nearly 800 were still on duty there in mid-1994. Other UN missions in which Ghana has participated include the Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (1991-94); Cambodia, where more than 1,000 Ghanaians served as security personnel during UN-supervised elections in 1992-93; Somalia (1994); and Rwanda, where nearly 850 Ghanaians troops were part of a 2,500-member peacekeeping force in 1994. Assignments with ECOMOG and other international peacekeeping operations were avidly sought after because they presented opportunities for self-enrichment, such as black-market dealings, otherwise unavailable to the average soldier. So lucrative were UN assignments that there were reports of bribery for selecting for such forces.

Data as of November 1994

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Ghana Table of Contents