15 DECEMBER 1961, Page 4

Purple Paper

rrliE Ghana Government's White Paper called 1 'Statement by the Government on the Recent Conspiracy' makes sorry reading. As an ex post facto justification of the recent widespread arrests of members of the (perfectly legal) Opposition it is wholly inadequate; as an indication of the kind of continuing and indeed increasing repressiveness of the Nkrumah regime it is all too significant.

The White Paper contains a number of alle- gations against Ghanaian citizens and those of Togo (including the President of the latter), and also against British firms and journalists. Charges serious and trivial, against Ghanaians and foreigners, arc jumbled together; on some, no evidence is presented, on others the evidence is ludicrously unconvincing, on many the arguments are presented with a total lack of logic. The general tone of the White Paper is hysterical and aggressive. Most unconvincing of all is the ex- planation of the Ghana Government's failure to bring the accused to trial; this is explained partly by the Government's unwillingness to see the death penalty (which would be the penalty for any found guilty of treason) imposed, and partly by the fact that some of the accused might be ac- quitted!

On many of the charges, of course, judgment must be suspended—there is no way of telling how much there may be in them. Not, be it said, that any such inhibitions have affected the Ghana Government; all the allegations, even the flimsiest, are regarded as having been proved. But one or two are so obviously absurd that they cast doubt on the whole of the Government's case. The charges against President Olympio of Togo, who is accused of plotting—and taking an active personal part in the plot, too—against the Ghana Government, in return for promises of Ghana territory when Dr. Nkrumah had been over- thrown, are so serious that it is difficult to under-. stand why Dr. Nkrumah has not taken them, say, to the United Nations if he really believes them. It is possible, however, that he does not; for one of the most striking things about these charges is that they include what purport to be detailed descriptions of meetings in Togo attended by President Olympio; since the only people said to have been present are those accused of the con- spiracy it is hard to see from whom the in- formation could have come, and it is not made any easier by the total absence from the White Paper of any indication that there is any evidence for these passages at all.

Equally unconvincing are the White Paper's implied charges against General Alexander and the British officers of the Ghanaian armed forces. General Alexander's signal to his officers, reading On no account must impression be caused that British officers will not take part in internal security 'if this is necessary ...' (one of the charges of the conspiracy is that the Army was to be per- suaded to remain 'neutral'), is treated to a remark- able display of legerdemain. General Alexander said he sent the signal 'because there was some doubt on the position of British officers.' The White Paper transmutes this into evidence that 'there was "some doubt" in the minds of British officers as to where their duty lay--thus turning a doubt which may have existed in the minds of other people about the British officers into a doubt which did exist in the minds of the officers them- selves.

Like all such shaky 'documents, this White Paper includes what are supposed to be photo- graphic facsimiles of incriminating documents. Most pathetic of these is a picture of a cheque, included to reinforce the charges against Mr. V. Y. de Grant Brempong, one of the chief ac- cused. The caption to the picture of the cheque reads, 'A photographic reproduction of the cheque issued by V. Y. de Grant Brempong to the military personnel at Teshie Camp in pay- ment for explosives.' But the cheque is made out simply to 'Cash,' and would certainly not be per- mitted in any civilised court to be included as evidence that it was paid to any particular per- son for any particular purpose.

Not all the charges in the White Paper are as

which is the Katanga lobby?'

shaky as these. Nor are these the most important. But if such flimsy and illogical charges are made, it is reasonable to suspect the whole case. Dr. Nkrumah will have to do better, and with .cleaner hands, if he is to convince independent observers that there is the kind of conspiracy against him and his regime that he claims. And while 'he is on the subject, he might do worse than reflect that if he chokes the legitimate channels of expression, it •is not surprising that other channels come into use. He is .fond enough of saying similar things about the situation in South Africa, after all.