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Former President Rawlings has died

Former president, Jerry John Rawlings.

Ghana’s longest-serving head of state, Jerry John Rawlings has died.

The 73-year-old is said to have died after he contracted Covid-19 and was rushed to the intensive care unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.

The founder of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) was last seen in public on October 19, during the final funeral rites leading to the burial of his mother, Victoria Agbotui.

Mr Rawlings died at 10 am on Thursday morning.

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The former military leader was born Jerry Rawlings John on 22 June 1947. He ruled 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.

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.

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After initially handing power over to a civilian government, he took back control of the country on December 31, 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, Mr Rawlings endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as a presidential candidate in 2000.

Announcing his passing President Akufo-Addo said, “It is with great sadness that I announce to the nation that the first President of the Fourth Republic, Jerry John Rawlings has joined his ancestors.”

The family of Mr Rawlings said the details for the funeral arrangement will be announced in due course.