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Former Ghanaian Coup Maker Wants Honor


The man who led a group of young soldiers to overthrow a military regime in Ghana in 1979, says he deserves praises instead of condemnation. Boakye-Djan is today (Wednesday) launching his book called “To Duty, the Enforced Restoration of the Constitution of Ghana. He said former President Rawlings should be held to account for leading the coup, which led to the overthrow of former President Hilla Liman in 1981.

From Ghana’s port city, Tema, Boakye-Djan tells VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey that he upheld the highest laws of the country during the 1979 coup d’etat.

“If you look at the run of legal provisions in the country, beginning with the 1060 Criminal Code Section 12, which says that if anybody took up arms to overthrow a constitutionally elected government, he committed a treasonable offense punishable by death. Therefore, if anybody takes any decision to do that has broken the primary law of this country, for which the sanctions should be applied,” Boakye-Djan noted.

He said although he was successful in overthrowing what he referred to as an illegal government, previous attempts to do the same had failed.

“By 1979 the situation was that there had been two interventions of anti-constitution coup in the country for which sanctions has not been exacted. And I led a group of young officers and other ranks for the first time in Ghana’s history to do just that. Before then, attempts to do that had failed, notably, in 1967 led by Assa and Yeboah. Since then numerous attempts had been made to do the same thing against the PNDC (Provisional National Defense Council), which had not succeeded,” he said.

Boakye-Djan said he did the right thing in getting rid of what he said was an illegal regime.

“So June fourth as a counter coup against a sitting illegal regime is unique in history. It stands alone. What is wrong by enforcing that is on our statute books? You can’t call it wrong, ” he noted.

He denied the coup he helped organize in 1979 was legal.

“No, because first, Section One, Article 3, subsection three of the current constitution states clearly that in an event such as we found ourselves in 1979, if you did take up arms or even throw a stone to create a situation where a constitution is reversed, you committed no crime. It’s in the criminal code1960. I didn’t create it. It’s perfectly legitimate for me to do what I did,” he pointed out.

Boakye-Djan blamed former President Rawlings and his government for turning Ghanaians against him.

“(Ghanaians blame me) because since 1979, there has been a consistent representation and misapplication of that principle by those who stand guilty in the face of that provision. I’m talking about the PNDC. PNDC is an illegality by the provisions that I have cited. And in order for them to draw away attention from that illegality, and away from the principle being applied against them, they have consistently misrepresented the contents and import of June fourth,” he said.

He said former President Rawlings committed treason according to the country’s constitution.

“I’m not blaming him for June fourth; I’m not blaming him for 15th May. I am stating clearly that by his intervention, militarily, in a constitutionally elected situation in Ghana in 1981, he has committed high treason punishable by death,” he said.

Boakye-Djan said he does not see eye to eye with the former Ghanaian president.

“Let me tell you this! I have said elsewhere that the principle that united us in 1979 is the principle that divides us today. On that basis of that division I have no truck with that criminal,” Boakye-Djan said.

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