Ghana opposition in London airs concern over Rawlings activity
Ghana's opposition leaders in exile in London have expressed concern about the reported imminent transfer of between 2,500 and 5,000 Cuban troops from Angola to Ghana to help buttress the regime of Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings.Skip to next paragraph
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They have also offered evidence suggesting a close Libyan connection with the Rawlings regime, claiming that eight Ghanaians, including a political adviser, were on the staff of the Libyan People's Bureau when it was recently closed down in London.
The opposition Ghana Democratic Movement (GDM) also sent an extensive catalogue of human rights abuses under the Rawlings regime to United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, shortly before his visit to Ghana.
A copy of their protest was also delivered to the Commonwealth secretary-general, Shridath Surendranath (Sonny) Ramphal, in London. The chairman of the GDM is Joseph Henry Mensah, an internationally renowned economist, who served at one time as Ghana's finance minister. Another prominent member of the movement is Kofi Batsa, who was a prominent figure in the regime of independence of the late Kwame Nkrumah.
The Rawlings regime announced in March that 34 Cuban experts of an unspecified nature had arrived in Accra shortly before the visit of Cuba's foreign minister. There were subsequent reports that 13 Cuban officers had arrived in Ghana in late April.
Further as yet unsubstantiated reports suggested that arrangements were being made at the jungle warfare school at Achiasi and that an old guerrilla training camp at Obenem-ase was being rehabilitated for the reception of the Cuban troops.
According to the GDM, the state airline Ghana Airways has been asked by the regime to prepare contingency plans to airlift 2,500 passengers from an undisclosed venue in central Africa.
There are conflicting versions about the possible reason for the transfer of Cuban troops to Ghana. One view is that they are intended to bolster the Rawlings regime, which has faced a number of attempted military coups in the past year.
A second view is that Ghana is to be the first stage of the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola once agreement has been reached in the next round of the Namibia negotiations.
Meanwhile, it is rumored that the proposal to bring Cubans to Ghana has become an issue of controversy within Rawlings' Provisional National Democratic Council, the body set up after his military coup of Dec. 31, 1981.
At the time of the December coup it was rumored that the Libyans had given their support to the action. No substantial evidence has yet been provided, however, to bear out this particular allegation.
What is known is that Colonel Qaddafi did provide a free shipment of oil to assist the new regime. Such reports, however, are regarded with extreme skepticism since the hand of Qaddafi is seen in every coup in Africa.
Nevertheless, Rawlings has himself confirmed that his regime has been impressed by Libya's idea of ''transferring power to the people.''
There is also some evidence of links both normal and unusual between the two regimes. What has not been satisfactorily explained is why eight Ghanaians should have been attached to the Libyan Embassy in London after it was taken over by the People's Bureau, a move that preceded the shoot-out at the embassy in April and the consequent rupture of diplomatic relations between Britain and Libya.
The GDM claims to have uncovered the existence of two Ghanaian operational groups in London along lines similar to the various Libyan operations abroad carried out by members of Qaddafi's people's bureaus.
The first is a defense committee which is alleged to be in actual control of the Ghanaian Embassy although its formal representative is the highly respected former international civil servant, Kenneth Dadzie, who serves as Ghana's high commissioner.
The chairman of the defense committee (which would be the direct channel with Rawlings' Provisional National Democratic Council in the capital, Accra) is listed merely as a driver at the embassy, according to the GDM.
The second center of alleged ''revolutionary cadres'' is said to be centered in the London offices of the Ghana Timber Marketing Board. According to the GDM, some of these cadres were trained in Libya.
But the GDM says that these agents are not concerned with collecting secret military or political intelligence. It suggests that ''apart from controlling Ghanaian officials and institutions in Britain, we think it would pay all of us (exiles) to follow carefully their activities here.''