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12 November 2020 22:30

Jerry Rawlings

Ghana's former leader Jerry Rawlings dies at 73

Rawlings led two coups but went on to bring democratic rule to west African country Jerry Rawlings, who seized power twice in military coups but is now regarded as a driving force behind Ghana's emergence as a stable democracy, has died, aged 73. Ghana's president, Nana Akufo-Addo, said in a statement that Rawlings had died on Thursday morning at a hospital in Accra after a short illness. "A great tree has fallen and Ghana is poorer for this loss," he said. Rawlings' takeovers in 1979 and 1981 were marked by authoritarian rule and the execution of senior military officers, including Gen Frederick Akuffo, whom he overthrew in the first coup. But Rawlings went on to oversee Ghana's transition to multi-party democracy 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. John Mahama, the leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party that Rawlings founded, said on Twitter that 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 the incumbent 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.

He also heeded the calls for multi-party democracy that swept Africa in the early 1990s, and held Ghana's first elections since 1979 in 1992. With all the levers of power at his disposal, he beat the opposition and claimed re-election four years later in 1996. 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. "Africa has lost a stalwart of pan-Africanism and a charismatic continental statesman," the AU commission chair, Moussa Faki, said on Twitter. A statement from the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, said: "The entire African continent will sorely miss the sterling qualities of the great leader.

"The passion, discipline and moral strength that the former Ghanaian leader employed to reposition his country over many years continue to reverberate across the continent and beyond." Accra (CNN) Jerry Rawlings, who seized control of Ghana twice in military coups before becoming the country's democratically-elected president, has died at the age of 73, his party said in a statement Thursday. Rawlings' takeovers in 1979 and 1981 were marked by authoritarian rule and the executions of senior military officers, including General Frederick Akuffo, whom he overthrew in the first coup. But Rawlings went on to oversee Ghana's transition to multi-party democracy, winning election in 1992 and 1996 before stepping down in 2001. "A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss," said the current president, Nana Akufo-Addo, in a statement. National flags will fly at half mast for a week from Friday across the west African country, he added.

The president and vice president, who are members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), will suspend their political campaigns for the upcoming general election on December 7 for the same period of time. Jerry Rawlings, a former Ghanaian Air Force officer who led two military coups before steering his country toward democracy with an authoritarian hand, died on Thursday in the nation's capital, Accra. His death, in a hospital, was announced by Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo. Mr. Rawlings entered Ghana's stage as an archetypal African military ruler, seizing power in 1979. By the time he left office 22 years later, he had served two presidential terms brought about by free elections.

Mr. Rawlings had established Ghana as a rare democratic example on the continent. Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo says Rawlings died in hospital in Accra after a short illness. Ghana's former leader Jerry Rawlings, who seized power twice in military coups but went on to bring democratic rule to the West African country, died on Thursday at the age of 73, the country's president said. President Nana Akufo-Addo said Rawlings died on Thursday morning at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in the capital, Accra, where he had been receiving treatment after a short illness. "A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss," the president said. Akufo-Addo ordered flags around the country to be lowered to half-mast for seven days of national mourning from Friday and said he was suspending campaigning for the upcoming election in December. Rawlings was born in 1947 to a Scottish father and a Ghanaian mother who died in September at the age of 101. Rawlings, who trained as an air force officer, came to power in 1979 after leading his first coup, and then transferring power to civilian rule soon after. In December 1981, he staged a second coup and was Ghana's military leader until he introduced multiparty elections in 1992 that returned the country to democracy. He won the elections and was sworn in as president in 1993 and served two elected four-year terms, leaving office in 2001. Rawlings 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. African Union President Moussa Faki Mahamat tweeted that the former Ghanian leader was a "stalwart for pan-Africanism". It is with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of former president Jerry Rawlings of Ghana. Michael Amoah of the London School of Economics told Al Jazeera via Skype that Rawlings, a very populist figure, had a "very large influence" not only in Ghana, but across the African continent. Jerry 'Junior Jesus' Rawlings died Thursday morning at the Korle-Bu University Hospital in Accra, where he had been admitted a week earlier. President Nana Akufo-Addo and former president John Mahama have announced the temporary suspension of their election campaigns, ahead of 7 December polls. A former lieutenant in the Ghanaian Air Force, he participated in his first military coup in May 1979. Born in Accra to an Ewe mother and a Scottish father, Jerry Rawlings was noticed very early on for his outspokenness and his itch for revolution. Jerry Rawlings quickly became leader and committed himself to returning the power to the civilians. The promise was kept: general elections were held and, three months later, Rawlings stepped down to make way for Hilla Limann, who had just been elected president. Jerry Rawlings was just over 30 years old and massively popular in Ghana. Get your free PDF by completing the following form Email Address * Civility * Last name * First name * Country * Industry * Position * Get information from Jeune Afrique Media Group: subscription deals, special offers… By downloading this PDF you agree to subscribe to The Africa Report Daily newsletter SUCCESS ERROR He overthrew Limann, took over the leadership of the Provisional National Defence Council and established himself in power for a long time. READ MORE Ghana: Akufo-Addo and Mahama go head to head in December Under pressure from the opposition and the international community, Jerry Rawlings set his country on the road to democratisation. Democratically elected in 1992, he was re-elected in 1996 for a second term at the head of Ghana. READ MORE Ghana: John Mahama splashed by Airbus corruption affair In 2000, Rawlings was barred by the constitution from running for a second term, so he endorsed his vice-president, John Atta-Mills, to run for another term.