Ghana's new military leader, former Air Force Lt. Jerry Rawlings, announced tonight the suspension of the country's two-year-old constitution and a "restructuring" of the West African nation "in a real, meaningful and democratic manner."
Rawlings, who took power for the second time in Ghana in a bloody military coup Thursday, also dismissed the elected government of Hilla Limann and abolished all six of Ghana's political parties.
There was no word on the condition of Limann or any of the officials from his government.
Early broadcasts from the West African nation said three members of Limann's party were arrested for spreading false information, The Associated Press reported. Their names were not reported.
The official radio made no further mention of looting by soldiers, which had been reported Friday, The AP said.
During a five-minute broadcast over Radio Ghana, monitored in Abidjan, Rawlings accused Limann's government of "a great denial of our fundamental rights." He accused the government of ignoring the needs of the citizens and cited as an example the hospitals, which because of a lack of drugs had been "turned into graveyards and our clinics into death transit camps."
"The time has come for us to restructure this society in a real, meaningful and democratic manner to ensure the active involvement of the whole people in the decision-making process of this country," said Rawlings in the continuation of a theme from his 1979 coup.
He also assured members of the foreign business community that they "should entertain no fears as long as they remain honest." When he took power in 1979, Rawlings accused the large Lebanese and Syrian business communities in Ghana of "ruining" the country's economy.
In addition, Rawlings assured Ghana's diplomatic community that the country would continue its membership in the nonaligned movement and has "no intention of joining any power bloc."
On June 4, 1979, Rawlings led a military coup overthrowing the military government of Gen. Frederick Akuffo. The military Revolutionary Council he established charged Akuffo and other high-ranking officers with illegally enriching themselves while ignoring the worsening economic condition for average Ghanaians.
Akuffo and seven other high-level officers, including three former heads of state, were executed. Rawlings and the Revolutionary Council then went on a four-month anticorruption campaign in which dozens of soldiers, businessmen and government bureaucrats were jailed.
Nearly four months later, the Revolutionary Council handed over power to Limann's elected government, Ghana's first civilian government since 1972. At that time, Rawlings publicly warned Limann that the military would not tolerate a return to the corruption that had marked Ghana's previous civilian and military governments.
Since then Limann's government has seemed unable to end a cycle of economic deterioration. Charges of favoritism and bribery, which apparently had not been denied effectively, were leveled at Limann's People's National Party in connection with the awarding of lucrative government contracts.
Rawlings' takeover this week marked the fifth time in Ghana's 25-year history of independence that the Army has brought down a government.