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
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.
Data as of November 1994