Accra, Nov. 12, 2020
Tributes have been pouring in for Ghana’s former president, Jerry John Rawlings, who died in Accra on Thursday morning, aged 73.
African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat tweeted: “Africa has lost a stalwart of Pan-Africanism and a charismatic continental statesman.
“My sincere condolences to his family, the people and the government of Ghana.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari expressed his heartfelt condolences saying “the entire African continent will sorely miss the sterling qualities of the great leader”.
He also said he believes that “the passion, discipline and moral strength that the former Ghanaian leader employed to reposition his country over many years” would “continue to reverberate across the continent and beyond”.
Buhari also hoped that Rawlings’ ideas “for development in Africa… will always be remembered”.
President of Liberia, George Weah, in a tweet, said, “Ghana, Liberia and Africa will miss a great leader. Liberia remembers his immense contribution to the attainment and sustainment of peace during our dark days of our own history.”
Pan-Africanist Professor PLO Lumumba in a Facebook post said: “I am sad to learn of the demise of President Jerry Rawlings, a good friend and great man. Let us honour him by emulating his courage and candour. J. J. Old Soldiers never die.”
Former Nigerian Vice president, Atiku Abubakar, tweeted, “Jerry Rawlings was an African giant. His tenure as leader of Ghana remains emblematic with the restoration of that country. Even after office, he stood tall for African unity and renaissance.”
Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has declared seven days of national mourning in honour of the former President.
In a statement issued by the Ghanaian Presidency, he said: “I have directed that all national flags should fly at half mast for the next seven days in all parts of the country and I have declared seven days of national mourning from Friday 13th November 2020.
“I convey the deep sympathies of the government and the people of Ghana to his wife Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the children and the family of the late president in these difficult times.”
The statement said the Government will work closely with the family of the late president on the arrangements for “a fitting funeral” for him.
“A great tree has fallen, Ghana is poorer for this loss,” he said.
The family of the former president is asking for privacy as it mourns him.
“The family requests privacy at this difficult moment,” his eldest child, Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, said in a statement in Accra.
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, a presidency source has said.
Rawlings overthrew then-ruler Gen. Frederick Akuffo in 1979 when he was an army lieutenant.
He handed over power to civilians soon after but then led another coup two years later, decrying the government’s corruption and weak leadership.
From 1981 to 1993, Rawlings 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 and serving two terms before handing over power to John Kufour who succeeded him in 2001.
The source at the presidency said Rawlings had died on Thursday morning, but provided no further details.
Ghana’s President, Akufo-Addo, while announcing the demise of Rawlings and declaring 7 days mourning had said, it was with great sadness that he was announcing to the nation that the first president of the Fourth Republic, Jerry John Rawlings, has “joined his ancestors”.
He said the tragic event occurred at 10.10 am (GMT) on Thursday at the Korle bu Teaching Hospital in Accra where the former president was receiving treatment after a short illness.
He said in honour of the memory of the former president, he and Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia have suspended their political campaign for the same period. Ghana is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on 7 December.
Reports from Accra said hundreds of people have been pouring into his house in tears as the shocking news spread.
Rawlings, 73, a former Flight Lieutenant and fighter pilot, was born on 22 June 1947.
He burst onto the Ghanaian political scene when he was arrested and tried for mutiny in May 1979.
At that trial, Rawlings, who was a fighter pilot, defended himself by criticising the military leadership at the time and widespread corruption.
This won him many admirers and he was sprung from jail on 4 June by junior officers and other ranks to lead an uprising that they called “house cleaning exercise”. Three former military leaders were executed during the period which is regarded as the bloodiest in Ghana’s history.
He handed over to a civilian government in September 1979 but staged another coup on 31 December 1981 and ruled as a military leader until 1993 when he was sworn in as a civilian president after winning multi-party election on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which he formed.
He served two terms as the democratically elected President of Ghana from 7 January, 1993 to 7 January, 2001 when he handed over to John Agyekum Kufuor, whose New Patriotic Party (NPP) won the election in December 2000.