Remembering John Jerry Rawlings, The Former Ghanaian President


John Jerry Rawlings was born in Accra, Ghana on June 22, 1947. Rawlings was a divisive Ghanaian president who held office intermittently between 1993 to 2001. As a result, Rawlings is a former Ghanaian president and head of state.

Following a coup in 1979, John Rawlings rose to power in Ghana as a flight lieutenant in the Ghana Air Force. After originally ceding power to a civilian government, Rawlings reclaimed control of the country as Chairman of the Provisional National Defense Council on December 31, 1981.

He resigned from the Armed Forces in 1992, created the National Democratic Congress, and became the Fourth Republic’s first president. He was re-elected for a fourth term in 1996. Rawlings is currently the African Union’s envoy to Somalia.

On May 15, 1979, Jerry Rawlings led a group of military soldiers in a coup attempt on General Fred Akuffo, which resulted in his capture, imprisonment, and death sentence.

However, a speech he gave during his trial struck a chord with a substantial segment of the people, who rallied in his defense. As a result, on June 4th, soldiers sympathetic to his motivations broke him out of jail, and he led a military and civilian revolt that overthrew General Akuffo and the Supreme Military Council, effectively putting him in charge.

Rawlings and the troops behind him formed the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and embarked on what they called a “housecleaning exercise” to rid Ghanaian society of all the corruption and social inequalities that they saw as at the root of their coup.

The AFRC held an election, which Hilla Limann of the People’s National Party won (PNP). On December 31, 1981, Rawlings, along with some soldiers and civilians, took advantage of Limann’s New Year celebrations and overthrew the Limann government, citing economic mismanagement. Rawlings then appointed himself as Chairman of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC).

Rawlings withdrew from the military in 1992 and founded the National Democratic Congress (NDC). In response to calls for a more democratic procedure for managing the country, he legalized political parties and held presidential and parliamentary elections. Outside observers declared the polling to be “free and fair,” as Rawlings and his party received 58.3% of the vote. Rawlings was re-elected President of Ghana for a second term in 1996.
After two terms in office and being barred from running in any election by the constitution, Rawlings endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as a presidential candidate in 2000.
Rawlings died on November 12, 2020, in Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, a week after being admitted to Ghana for a “short term sickness.” According to some stories, his death was caused by COVID-19 problems. On September 24, 2020, he died, nearly two months after his mother, Victoria Agbotui.

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