Ex-president Jerry John Rawlings was a Ghanaian military officer and politician who led the country from 1981 to 2001
Mr Rawlings mother, Madam Victorial Agbotui died in September 2020 at aged 101 and was buried on October 24, 2020.
JJ Rawlings felt sick after his mother’s burial about three weeks ago and he was called home.
J.J. Rawlings was a Ghanaian military officer and politician who led the country from 1981 to 2001 and also for a brief period in 1979.
He led a military junta until 1992, and then served two terms as the democratically elected President of Ghana. He died on 12th November, 2020.
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 presidential candidate in 2000.
He served as the African Union envoy to Somalia. He died on 12 November 2020 at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana.
Jerry John Rawlings was born in June 1947 in Accra, Ghana, to Victoria Agbotui, an Ewe from Dzelukope, Keta and James Ramsey John, a chemist from Castle Douglas in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland.
James Ramsey John was married in England to someone else and his descendants now live in Newcastle and London.
Rawlings attended Achimota School and a military academy at Teshie. Rawlings is married to Nana Konadu Agyeman, who he met while at Achimota College. They have three daughters: Zanetor Rawlings, Yaa Asantewaa Rawlings, Amina Rawlings; and one son, Kimathi Rawlings.
Rawlings finished his secondary education at Achimota College in 1967. He joined the Ghana Air Force shortly afterwards; on his application, the military switched his surname John and his middle name Rawlings.
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.
He earned the rank of Flight Lieutenant and in April 1978. During his service with the Ghana Air Force, Rawlings perceived a 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.
Rawlings grew discontent with Ignatius Kutu Acheampong’s government, which had come to power through a coup in January 1972.
Acheampong was accused not only of corruption, but also of maintaining Ghana’s dependency on pre-colonial powers that led to economic decline and impoverishment.
Rawlings was part of the Free Africa Movement, an underground movement of military officers who wanted to unify Africa through a series of coups.
On 15 May 1979, five weeks prior to civilian elections, Rawlings and six other soldiers staged a coup against the government of General Fred Akuffo, but failed and was arrested by the Ghanaian Military.
Rawlings was publicly sentenced to death in a General Court Martial and imprisoned, although his statements on the social injustices that motivated his actions won him civilian sympathy, While awaiting execution, Rawlings was sprung from custody on 4 June 1979 by a group of soldiers.
Second coup in 1981
Rawlings led a second coup against Limann and indicted the entire political class on 31 December 1981.
In place of Limann’s People’s National Party, Rawlings established the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) military junta as the official government.
he PNDC used NCD recommendations to establish a committee for the drafting of a new constitution based on past Ghanaian Constitutions, that lifted the ban on political parties in May 1992 after it was approved by referendum.
On 3 November 1992, election results compiled by the INEC from 200 constituencies showed that Rawlings’ NDC had won 60% of the votes, and had obtained the majority needed to prevent a second round of voting.
More specifically, the NDC won 62% in the Brong-Ahafo region, 93% in the Volta region, and majority votes in Upper West, Upper East, Western, Northern, Central, and Greater Accra regions.
His opponents Professor Adu Boahen won 31% of the votes, former President Hilla Limann won 6.8%, Kwabena Darko won 2.9%, and Emmanuel Erskine won 1.7%.
Voter turnout was 50%.
The two major contenders of the 1996 election were Rawlings’ NDC, and John Kufuor’s Great Alliance, an amalgamation of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the People’s Convention Party (PCP).
The Great Alliance based their platform on ousting Rawlings, and attacked the incumbent government for its poor fiscal policies.
However, they were unable to articulate a clear positive message of their own, or plans to change the current economic policy.
As Ghana was heavily dependent on international aid, local leaders had minimal impact on the economy.
The Electoral Commission reported that Rawlings had won by 57%, with Kufuor obtaining 40% of the vote.
Results by district were similar to those in 1992, with the opposition winning the Ashanti Region and some constituencies in Eastern and Greater Accra, and Rawlings winning in his ethnic home, the Volta, and faring well in every other region.
The NDC took 134 seats in the Assembly compared to the opposition’s 66, and the NPP took 60 seats in the parliament.
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