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Jerry Rawlings, the coup leader who ruled Ghana for 20 years, dies at the age of 73



The country’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, declared death in a statement, citing undisclosed illness.

Mr. Rawlings is a 32-year-old Ghanaian Air Force officer who first tried to overthrow a national government that he believed was corrupt in May 1979. He was sentenced to jail, but soon became a hero for the poor and the army of the country.

With the help of bewildered soldiers and non-commissioned officers, he escaped from prison on June 4, 1

979, and then went to the radio station to urge his followers to seize power. In the end, the country’s military leader Frederick Akuffo was overthrown.

Mr. Rawlings is often referred to as “Flight Lt. Rawlings” because of his military rank. He accused the Akuffo regime of corruption and profiteering.

“At that time, the wealthy, including senior military officers, became richer, and most of us were starving,” he said at the time. “I have always wanted to do something to correct the injustice.”

A presidential election is scheduled, and Mr. Rollins has vowed to resign in support of the new democratically elected leader. But during his 112 days in power, he oversaw the hasty creation of a military court, which placed Akuffo and two other former heads of state in court. They were executed along with many senior officials.

As he said, when the new president of Ghana, Sheila Liman, was sworn in, Mr. Rollins and other coup leaders returned to military positions. In a speech in the country’s parliament, Mr. Rollins looked directly at Liman and issued a clear warning.

He said: “If those in power use their offices for personal gain, they will be resisted and helpless. He added ominously: “We are fully confident that we will never regret the decision to return to the barracks. “

In 1957, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan country in Africa to declare independence from a colonial power, as far as Great Britain is concerned. After the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, was overthrown in a military coup in 1966, the country faced increasing poverty and instability under a series of military and civilian leaders. .

This trend continued during the first two years of Lehman’s tenure. Mr. Rollins traveled across the country, addressed a large number of people, and condemned what he called a “rotten” system that “will allow those same corrupt forces.” Stay in control” Ghanaian life. “

Limann laughed at Mr. Rawlings as “that boy”, and some of his associates laughed at his mixed blood, calling him “half of Africa”.

On December 31, 1981, Mr. Rawlings led the second coup, calling Lehman and his supporters “a group of criminals who will blood Ghana.”

This time, Mr. Rollins had no intention of giving up power. He dissolved the country’s parliament, repealed the constitution, and banned all political parties except his own. He aimed to establish a socialist country in Ghana and expressed admiration for Libya and its dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

Rollins announced at the time: “If what I try to do for the second time in my life is not recognized by the Ghanaians, I am now ready to face an expulsion team.”

There is no doubt that he is an authoritarian ruler, he fired the judge and closed the opposition newspaper. His regime expelled many business elites in the country, especially those of Lebanese origin, and publicly accused those who charged too much for commercial goods. Mr. Rollins has endured several failed coups, arrested political dissidents, and in some cases sentenced to death.

However, according to the standards of other dictators, Mr. Rollins showed a certain degree of enlightenment and restraint. Instead of implementing a Soviet-style economic plan, he accepted the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and initiated free market reforms that led to a decade of growth.

He refused to build a personality cult around him, and rarely used the title “President”. His photos are not allowed in public places, and he has never been involved in a scandal involving financial corruption or personal behavior.

He also pledged to restore democratic elections in Ghana and allow opposition parties to provide them, provided that these parties do not have previously used names. In 1992, after more than ten years of one-man rule, Mr. Rollins ran for re-election and won the presidency with 58% of the vote.

Despite the economic setbacks in the next few years, he reelected in the 1996 elections and the local and international observers were unanimously free and fair. According to the new constitution assisted by Ghana, Mr. Rollins could not seek re-election as the third president.

When his party candidate failed in the 2000 presidential election, the peaceful transfer of power was considered rare in African politics.

Mr. Rawlings was born in Accra on June 22, 1947, and was born in Jerry Rawlings John. His father is a Scottish businessman, and his mother is an ewe from Ghana. His parents were not married, and Mr. Rollins was raised by his mother.

When he entered the Aviation Cadet Training Academy in Ghana, his surname John was omitted from the official list. He was called Jerry Rawlings, sometimes also called Jerry John Rawlings. (Ghanaians often call him “JJ” and some critics call him “Junior Jesus”.)

Mr. Rawlings is good at being a pilot. After the first coup in 1979, he reportedly cheered and celebrated in a jet fighter, flying over Accra and the countryside at low altitude.

The survivors include his 43-year-old wife Nana Konadu Agyeman, who failed to run for Ghana’s president in 2016. And four children.

In subsequent years, Mr. Rollins still maintained a strong influence in public life in Ghana. Although he came to power by virtue of a military coup, he was later regarded as a pan-African politician and a major architect of the country’s emerging social and political stability. He has lectured around the world and participated in the peacekeeping and diplomatic efforts of the United Nations and the African Union.

In an interview with The Washington Post in 1979, Mr. Rollins cited the influence of the black psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon (Frantz Fanon) from Martinique. His book described colonialism. And the dehumanizing impact of economic inequality.

Rollins said: “Well, this is our entire purpose.” “This is not a futile matter, but the rich oppress the poor, exploit us, oppress us.”




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