Former Ghana president Jerry Rawlings dies at 73

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Jerry Rawlings
Ex-Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings

Former Ghanaian president Jerry John Rawlings is dead, aged 73.

He died on November 12 after a brief illness.

He had been hospitalised at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital for about a week for an undisclosed illness, said the state-owned Daily Graphic.

He is a joint recipient of the 1993 World Hunger Prize.

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He holds an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from Medgar Evers College, City University of New York and Lincoln University Doctorate Degree for Diplomacy and Development.

A flight-lieuteant, he ceased to be a member of the Ghana Armed Forces in 1992.

He formed the National Democratic Congress, which contested and won presidential and parliamentary elections in 1992 and again in 1996.

His term of office ended in the year 2000.

Coup in the background

On May 28, 1979, Flt.-Lt. Rawlings, together with six others, appeared before a General Court Martial in Accra, charged with leading a mutiny of junior officers and men of the Ghana Armed Forces on 15th May, 1979.

There was strong public reaction, especially after his statement had been read in court, explaining the social injustices that had prompted him to act.

The ranks of the Armed Forces, in particular, expressed deep sympathy with his stated aims. When he was scheduled for another court appearance on 4th June, 1979, Flt.-Lt. Rawlings was sprung from custody.

With the support of both military and civilians, he led a revolt, which decisively ousted the Supreme Military Council from office and brought the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) into being.

The AFRC, under the chairmanship of Flt.Lt. Rawlings carried out a “house-cleaning exercise” aimed at purging the Armed Forces and society at large of corruption and graft as well as restoring a sense of moral responsibility and the principles of accountability and probity in public life.

Meanwhile, following the programme already set in motion before the 4th June Uprising for civilian administration, general elections were held.

On 24th September 1979, the AFRC handed over to the civilian Government of the People’s National Party (PNP) under President Hilla Limann.

On 31st December 1981, Flt. Lt. Rawlings led a section of the Armed Forces to overthrow the PNP administration.

A Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), composed of both civilian and military members, was established, with Flt-Lt. J.J. Rawlings as the Chairman.

His interests included reading, building model aircraft, horse-riding and swimming. He is married to Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings with whom he has four children – three girls and a boy.

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