Ghana to mourn Jerry Rawlings for 7 days

Jerry Rawlings

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has declared seven days of national mourning from Friday over the death of the country’s iconic former leader Jerry Rawlings.

In a statement, the Presidency said Rawlings had died “after a short illness” on Thursday morning at a hospital in Accra.

Sources said the late statesman died of COVID-19 complications.

“A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss,” Mr Akufo-Addo said.

He ordered flags around the country to be lowered to half-mast for the mourning period and said he was suspending campaigning for the upcoming election in December.

Rawlings, a former air force flight lieutenant led two coups in 1979 and 1981, railing against corruption and stamping his authority on the nation before ushering in democracy.

Under his uncompromising command, several former heads of state and army bigwigs were executed, but to many of Ghana’s poor, Rawlings was their champion.

Rawlings’ family said that funeral arrangements would be announced in due course and asked for “privacy at this difficult moment”.