His party said Jerry Rawlings seized power twice in military coups, but is now seen as the driving force behind Ghana’s becoming a stable democracy. He died on Thursday at the age of 73. year old.
His successions in 1979 and 1981 were marked by dictatorship and the execution of high-level military officials, including General Frederick Akafo, who he overthrew in the first coup.
But Rollins continued to oversee Ghana’s transition to a multi-party democracy, winning elections in 1
Today, Ghana is considered one of the most mature democracies in West Africa and often sees a transfer of power between its two main parties.
“A big tree has fallen, and Ghana has become poorer because of this loss,” President Akufo-Addo said in a statement regarding Rollins’ death.
John Mahama, the leader of the National Congress of Democracy (NDC) founded by Rawlins, said in a Twitter message that he has suspended his campaign for the December 7 presidential election.
The election will confront Akufo Addo with his main challenger Mahama (the former president lost to Akufo Addo in the 2016 general election) and other smaller party candidates.
Rollins, the son of a Scottish father and a Ghanaian mother, first came to power when he was an Air Force lieutenant in the 1979 coup. Soon thereafter, he transferred power to civilian rule, but two years later he launched a coup d’etat, condemning government corruption and weak leadership.
From 1981 to 1993, he served as chairman of the military-civilian coalition government. In 1992, he was elected president of the next new constitution, occupying the office the following year.
As president, he liberalized Ghana’s economy and encouraged investment in the oil and gold sectors.
In 2001, he handed over power to the opposition John Kufour, who defeated Rollins’ vice president in the previous year’s election.
After leaving office, Rawlings remained a power broker in Ghanaian politics and held various international diplomatic positions, including as the representative of the African Union in Somalia.
Moussa Faki, chairman of the African Union Commission, said on Twitter: “Africa has lost the firm support of pan-Africanism and the charming continental politicians.”