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Ghana’s former President Jerry Rawlings has died of COVID-19

The 73-year-old died after a short illness, according to Ghanaian media. He served as president of the country for roughly two decades up to 2001.

Ghana’s former President Jerry Rawlings has died of COVID-19 www.theafricanstand.com
Ghana’s former President Jerry John Rawlings has died at the age of 73.

(The African Stand) — 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, a source at the presidency said.

Rawlings overthrew then-ruler General Frederick Akuffo in 1979 when he was an army lieutenant. He handed over power to civilian rule 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.

About Jerry John Rawlings

Jerry John Rawlings was born on June 22, 1947.

He was a former military leader and subsequent politician who ruled Ghana from 1981 to 2001 and also a brief period in 1979.

He led a military junta until 1992, and then served two terms as the democratically elected President of Ghana.

Rawlings initially came to power in Ghana as a flight lieutenant of the Ghana Air Force following a coup d’état in 1979.

Prior to that, he led an unsuccessful coup attempt against the ruling military government on 15 May 1979, just five weeks before scheduled democratic elections were due to take place.

After initially handing power over to a civilian government, he took back control of the country on 31 December 1981 as the Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).

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.

After two terms in office, the limit according to the Ghanaian Constitution, Rawlings endorsed his Vice-President John Atta Mills as a presidential candidate in 2000.

Education and military career

Rawlings finished his secondary education at Achimota College in 1967.

He joined the Ghana Air Force shortly afterward.

In March 1968, he was posted to Takoradi, in Ghana’s Western Region, to continue his studies.

He graduated in January 1969 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer, winning the coveted “Speed Bird Trophy” as the best cadet in flying the Su-7 ground attack supersonic jet aircraft as he was skilled in aerobatics.

During his service with the Ghana Air Force, Rawlings perceived deterioration in discipline and morale due to corruption in the Supreme Military Council (SMC).

As promotion brought him into contact with the privileged classes and their social values, his view of the injustices in society hardened.

He was thus regarded with some unease by the SMC.

After the 1979 coup, he involved himself with the student community of the University of Ghana, where he developed a more leftist ideology through reading and discussion of social and political ideas.

Esther Kamara

Written by Esther Kamara

Esther Kamara is a reporter at African Stand, covering the West African region with stories on politics and how it intersects with business, innovation, startups, and culture. She graduated from Kwame Nkrumah University with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.

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