February 21, 1966: Nkrumah departs for peace mission in Hanoi.

Nkrumah left Accra for Hanoi to mediate the Vietnam War on February 21, 1966, leaving a 3 person presidential commission in charge of the country. Below is earlier correspondence with President LB Johnson regarding this peace mission:

“Many thanks for your letter of August 6, which has been delivered to me by my foreign minister Mr. Alex Quayson-Sackey. My special envoys brought me some information from Hanoi which I did not divulge to my foreign minister before he left for Washington, because I wanted time to reflect on the main issues raised. At the same time, I was hurriedly making arrangements to go to Hanoi in spite of the fact that President Ho Chi Minh intimated that he could not guarantee my personal safety. After careful study of the Hanoi report I am satisfied that something good might come out of the information from President Ho Chi Minh. You will recall that in my letter of August 4, I requested the cessation of air attacks on Vietnam to enable me to visit Hanoi. I made this request to you through my foreign minister because, in the light of information brought to me from Hanoi, I considered that it must be useful for me personally to seek clarification on certain points from President Ho Chi Minh, if I went to Hanoi. Since it is not possible for me to go to Hanoi immediately, because President Ho Chi Minh is not in the position to guarantee my safety, I am now writing to inform you of some impressions I have gained from studying the report which my envoys brought to me from Hanoi. It is necessary for me to discuss these impressions and certain other matters with you personally at your convenience. I am certain that a discussion with you would be of immense help in my peace talks when eventually it is made possible for me to go to Hanoi. From what I gather from the observation and the discussions of my envoys with the authorities in Hanoi, and, particular, with President Ho Chi Minh, it is clear that after 21 years of continuous fighting the Vietnamese want peace as much as the people of the United States. But they say they want a peace that will guarantee the independence, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Vietnam. The Vietnamese emphasized that any settlement of the Vietnamese problem will have to be on the basis of the 1954 Geneva Agreement. It is now clear that President Ho Chi Minh himself and the Vietnamese people have no intention of humiliating the United States which is a great power and entitled to great respect. President Ho Chi Minh pointed out, however, that the Vietnamese are determined to fight to the end to preserve the independence and unity of their country in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement. I have also got to know from the report of my envoys that the current view that the Chinese are encouraging the Vietnamese to adopt an intransigent attitude is incorrect. It is clear from the report from my envoys that the Vietnamese have taken their own decisions and are determined to see them through. It may be true that they receive a lot of material assistance from China and Russia, but the will to fight to the end is their own, and needs no prompting from outside. Mr. President, I am informed that the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam also make the Geneva Agreement the basis of any settlement in Vietnam. They also consider that some kind of a national coalition government in the initial stages might help to achieve a solution. With regard to the unification of Vietnam, they are prepared to establish normal relations between the two zones and to advance towards the peaceful 61 unification of Vietnam. They are prepared, further, to carry out a foreign policy of peace and neutrality and to establish diplomatic relations with all countries which respect the independence and the sovereignty of Vietnam. I know that you and your government are also prepared to accept a settlement of the conflict in Vietnam on the basis of the Geneva Agreement, the neutralization of the area and the unity of two parts of the country by the exercise of the free will of the people of Vietnam through elections. It is appropriate that you, Mr. President, should have taken this stand. Mr. President it is clear to me that the gap which divides the parties to the conflict in Vietnam is very narrow. I believe that with goodwill and patient effort it will be possible to bridge this gap in order to lead to a negotiated settlement and thereby ensure world peace”.

From: The United States and the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah.

Eric Quaidoo

Fort Hays State University