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Ghana mourns

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-as Rawlings succumbs to death

Former Ghanaian President Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings has died just three weeks after he buried his mother. Rawlings 73, died at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in the Ghanaian capital, Accra on Thursday morning at about 10:10 AM after a brief illness.

He was last seen in public on October 19, at the Forecourt of the State House and Dzelukope in the Volta Region to bury his mother. Close family sources told the New Dawn via telephone on Thursday that the former Ghanaian president died from COVID-19.

This account was also reported by ThebbcGhana.com, a Ghanaian online news website quoting former first lady and standard bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings as saying her husband died of covid-19.

“My husband died after he contracted COVID-19 and was rushed to the intensive care unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra” she was quoted to have said in an interview by the media that gathered at the family residence.

Mrs. Rawlings further to journalists that her husband was rushed to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital on Sunday but there was no need for the news to be in the public domain.

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, also breaking the death news has declared 7 days of mourning directing that all national flags be flown at half-mast, beginning Friday November 13.

“This is with great sadness that I announce to the nation the 1st President of the 4th Republic, His Excellency, Jerry John Rawlings has joined his ancestors,” President Akufo-Addo said in a written statement.

“This tragic event occurred 10:10 am on Thursday 12th November 2020 at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital where the former president was receiving treatment, after a short illness,” the statement added.

Akufo-Addo notes that in honor to the memory of the late Rawlings, he and his vice were suspending all political campaigns.

Ghanaians are expected to go to the polls on December 7 in a presidential and parliament elections in which former first lady Agyeman Rawlings is contesting as a presidential candidate on the ticket of her late husband’s party.

Background
Rawlings born in Accra in June 1947, to a Ghanaian mother and a Scottish father, was both a military and a civilian leader. In 1979, the Flt. Lt. Rawlings overthrew General Frederick Akuffo as president. He soon relinquished power, handing over to civilian rule, but just to return two years later to stage another coup citing 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 that ushered in the 4th Republic and became the country’s first president under that constitutional arrangement the following year.

Rawlings is credited for Ghana’s transition to multi-party democracy and one of the continents role model.
In 2001, after serving his second term under the 4th Republic, he peacefully handed power over to John A. Kufour in January of the same year.

Rawlings was described as a charismatic figure, a champion of the poor, but bags huge criticisms for alleged death of dozens of high profile Ghanaians including judges.

Rawlings involving in the Liberian civil conflict The late Ghanaian former president played a very key role in the Liberian civil conflict as the regional grouping ECOWAS south to restore peace to the war torn nation.

In September 1990 following the death of Liberian President Samuel Doe, Rawlings and then Nigeria military leader Ibrahim Babandgida agreed to strengthen ECOMOG ground forces to the level of an effective fighting army with the objective of enforcing the peace.

In 1996, after the ECOWAS chairmanship was rotated from him, Rawlings told a visiting United States envoy to Liberia that the change in the ECOWAS chairmanship would not affect the sub-regional body’s peace plan for war torn Liberia at the time.

“There is a strong feeling now that we are on the threshold of peace than ever before.” Rawlings said, adding “It is up to all of us to make sure that we nail this problem in the coffin and bring a new lease of life to our brothers and sisters in Liberia.” By Othello B. Garblah

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