The coup that brought a junior military officer to power in Ghana two weeks ago, in sharp contrast with many of Africa's military upheavals, shows clear signs of moving in behalf of the country's poor and against the privileged few.
"The coup is unlike Ghana's previous coups," a Western diplomat said, "in that it's shaping up into a revolution of have-nots against the haves."
Parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for Monday, and the new government's response to the voting is expected to provide the first clear indication of its readiness to return power to elected civilians.
The most dramatic action taken so far by the Revolutionary Council headed by Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings was the execution yesterday of former president Ignatius Acheampong and his aide, Lt. Gen. E. K. Utuka. The two men were convicted by a revolutionary tribunal of "using their positions to amass wealth and recklessly dissipating state funds."
The executions appeared to be consistent with an editorial in a government-owned newspaper five days after the June 4 coup saying the Revolution Council "is not after the ordinary man but the big shot who for all this time has been cheating the ordinary man in the street."
The same theme was struck by a council spokesman who said yesterday that if a civilian government elected in Monday's general election moves energetically to end corruption, the military rulers may hand over power before the originally scheduled date of Oct. 1.
The election for a president and 140-seat parliament was scheduled by the previous government of Gen. Fred Akuffo, which had deposed Acheampong last year. Akuffo and some of his aides are now in custody.
A spokesman for the 14-member revolutionary Council of enlisted men and junior officers said today the Oct. 1 date for the return of civilian rule was negotiable if the new government showed that it would move quickly against bribery and corruption.
The spokesman was answering questions at a meeting of the council and the 10 presidential candidates.
Another Council spokesman said yesterday that the 80 senior officers and half dozen civilians now in jail on charges of profiteering and embezzlement will be tried by military tribunals and those who are convicted will be shot.
Ghana's new rulers have formed the fourth military government this financially troubled West African country has had since it won independence from Britain in 1957.
Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first prime minister, was overthrown in 1966 and died three years later in exile in Guinea. The military turned the government over to civilians following the election of Koffi Busia in 1969.
Busia was overthrown in 1972 by the coup that put Acheampong in power.
The Akuffo government that followed Acheampong lifted the ban on civil-
But on May 15 Rawlings and other junior officers attempted a coup that ended with Rawlings' arrest. During his trial last month Rawling reportedly said Ghana needed an Ethiopian solution to cleanse its armed forces of corruption high-ranking officers who had ruined the country's economy for personal gain.
Thousands of people were killed during and after the revolution that deposed Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.
Two weeks ago, Rawlings' allies freed him from prison and he led the successful coup against Akuffo. Estimates of the number of soldiers killed in the fighting range from several dozen to more than 100.
Gen. Neveille Odartey-Wellington, Akuffo's Army commander, was killed in fighting for Accra's main broadcasting station. Other members of the deposed Supreme Military Council hid in police headquarters.
ian politics and promised a return to civilian rule July 1.
"They were afraid of their own troops," said one Western diplomatic source.
Gen. Akuffo went into hiding but was captured last weekend. He and other high-ranking officers reportedly had their heads shaved as a sign of disgrace.
Before his execution, Acheampong was permitted to hold a news conference. He denied having accumulated large amounts of money and property during his six-year rule.
Government newspapers, however, published a long list of holdings allegedly belonging to the former president.
"Nkrumah suffered the same fate," said Acheampong, "and I am not surprised it is happening to me.
"I cannot claim to be infallible. Perhaps my only fault was that I was too lenient."
For hours after the executions, crowds of Ghanaians remained at the downtown firing range to stare at the stakes backed up by sandbags the two men had been tied to.The breeze from the Gulf of Guinea ruffled the white cloth bonds that had their bodies. CAPTION: Map, Ghana, By Dave Cook - The Washington Post