In a context of serious economic crisis, IK Acheampong tried to associate civilians with the military regime, without however reconstituting the parties (Union Government), but met with widespread opposition until, in July 1978, a top reshuffle replaced him with F. Akuffo. The latter promoted a return to civilian rule and legalized parties, but the belated reformism of the regime did not prevent a burst of popular anger at the failures and corruption of the ruling group.
According to itypeusa, at the head of the movement was a group of young officers, led by Second Lieutenant J. Rawlings, who assumed power with the coup of 4 June. The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) unleashed a movement of ” popular justice ” against corruption, which culminated in the shooting of 8 members of the past regimes, including AA Afrifa, Acheampong and Akuffo. The expected return to civilian government, however, took place regularly with the elections of June 18, won by the People’s National Party of H. Limann, who became president of the Republic. But the new government, undermined by internal divisions and unable to cope with the economic crisis and the exponential rise in prices, was soon discredited by scandals and corruption, until with a new coup (December 31, 1981) Rawlings abolished the Constitution and the parties, assuming power as president of a Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) made up of military and civilians, soon joined by a civilian cabinet.
The creation of the People’s Defense Committees network(PDC), which assumed vast powers in the political-administrative field, entailed a real subversion in the established hierarchy and a change of political mentality in a participatory sense. But the excesses of ” revolutionary ” zeal and the gradual deprivation of the official judicial system provoked widespread criticism and limiting interventions at the top. Dissent over the regime’s shift to the left (anti-Western positions in foreign policy, close ties with Libya and in 1984-87 with Th. Sankara’s Burkina Faso, who was inspired by Ghana’s experience) caused defections from PNDC and the army and a constant instability: particularly serious the attack of the exiles in Togo in 1983 and the events of 1985 and 1986 (tension with Togo) and 1987. On several occasions students, churches and trade unions criticized the regime in matters of human rights and economic policy. The ” Green Revolution ”, with the aim of self-sufficiency, suffered the repercussions of the drought and the return of one million Ghanaians expelled from Nigeria (1983). The surge in prices, the black market, the general pauperization and the breakdown of essential services brought about a pragmatic turning point in the PNDC, with an opening to Western capital and an agreement with the World Bank (late 1983). Although at the expense of certain revolutionary expectations, thanks to the regime’s commitment to comply with the requirements of the IMF (devaluation, reduction of public spending, etc.) and the new three-year agreement signed in 1987, the economy had experienced a certain recovery. Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). Local elections, the first in the history of the regime, were held in December 1988, to elect district assemblies, the first step, in theory, towards a national assembly that should replace the PNDC. In practice, the regime also maintained rigid control over these representative bodies (1/3 of the members appointed by the government) and did not seem very willing to accept the widespread aspirations for greater democratic participation. Police control over opposition activities remained firm, even if the tension between Rawlings and the fringes of the extreme left, expelled from the PNDC, eased. Several opponents remained in jail or under house arrest. In September 1989 an attempted coup was attributed to a follower of Rawlings, Major C. Quashingah. He was arrested the following month along with five members of the security forces accused of conspiring to assassinate the head of state. Despite reduced popular support, Rawlings’ consistency in pursuing harsh economic recovery measures earned the country and its leadership the trust of international organizations and foreign investment. Rawlings’ charisma remained strong, yet the widespread demand for a democratic opening of the political system grew. While the organized opposition demanded the abolition of bans on political activity and the adoption of a multi-party system, the party in power responded in the summer of 1991 by entrusting a committee of experts with the drafting of a new constitution. Approved by a referendum held on April 28, 1992, the constitution effectively abolished the prohibitions of political activity and reintroduced multi-partyism; the new law on political parties, however, set a series of limits that aroused the protest of the opposition.