Thursday, 12 November 2020


Ghana’s former President Jerry John Rawlings died in the capital yesterday morning, local media reports.

He is said to have passed on at the nation’s premier hospital, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. Rawlings had been admitted to the hospital for about a week for an undisclosed ailment. Local online news portal, Graphic Online said that Rawlings felt sick after the burial of his mother about three weeks ago.

He seized power twice in military coups but is now regarded as a driving force behind Ghana’s emergence as a stable democracy.

Rawlings went on to oversee Ghana’s transition to multiparty democracy, winning election in 1992 and 1996 before stepping down in 2001.

Today, Ghana is considered one of West Africa’s most mature democracies and regularly sees power change hands between its two main parties.

In 1992, Rawlings resigned from the military, founded the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and became the first President of the Fourth Republic. He was re-elected in 1996 for four more years.

“A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss,” President Akufo-Addo said in a statement on Rawlings’ death.

John Mahama, leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party that Rawlings founded, said in a Twitter message he had suspended campaigning for the 7 December presidential election.

The election will pit Akufo-Addo against his main challenger Mahama, a former president who lost to Akufo-Addo in a 2016 election, and other candidates from smaller parties.

The son of a Scottish father and Ghanaian mother, Rawlings first came to power in the 1979 coup when he was an air force lieutenant. He transferred power to civilian rule soon after but then led another coup two years later, decrying government corruption and weak leadership.

From 1981 to 1993, he ruled as chairman of a joint military-civilian government. In 1992 he was elected president under a new constitution, taking up that office the following year. As president, he liberalised Ghana’s economy, encouraging investment in the oil and gold sectors.

In 2001, he handed over power to John Kufour of the opposition party, who had defeated Rawlings’ vice-president in the previous year’s election.

After stepping down, Rawlings remained a power broker in Ghanaian politics while serving in various international diplomatic posts, including as the African Union’s representative in Somalia.

“Africa has lost a stalwart of Pan-Africanism and a charismatic continental statesman,” Moussa Faki, AU commission chair, said on Twitter. — africanews


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