Jerry Rawlings, who seized power twice in military coups but is now regarded as a driving force behind Ghana’s emergence as a stable democracy, has died, aged 73. Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, said in a statement that Rawlings had died on Thursday morning at a hospital in Accra after a short illness. “A great tree has fallen and Ghana is poorer for this loss,” he said. Rawlings’ takeovers in 1979 and 1981 were marked by authoritarian rule and the execution of senior military officers, including Gen Frederick Akuffo, whom he overthrew in the first coup. But Rawlings went on to oversee Ghana’s transition to multi-party democracy before stepping down in 2001. Today, Ghana is considered one of West Africa’s most mature democracies and regularly sees power change hands between its two main parties. “Africa has lost a stalwart of pan-Africanism and a charismatic continental statesman,” the AU commission chair, Moussa Faki, said on Twitter. A statement from the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, said: “The entire African continent will sorely miss the sterling qualities of the great leader.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN