By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Accra: Jerry Rawlings, who seized power twice in military coupes but is now regarded as a driving force behind Ghana’s emergence as a stable democracy, died on Thursday at the age of 73, his party said.
His takeovers in 1979 and 1981 were marked by authoritarian rule and the executions of senior military officers, including General Frederick Akuffo, whom he overthrew in the first coupe.
But Rawlings went on to oversee Ghana’s transition to multi-party democracy, winning election in 1992 and 1996 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.
“A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss,” President Akufo-Addo said in a statement on Rawlings’ death.
John Mahama, leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party that Rawlings founded, said in a Twitter message he had suspended campaigning for the Dec. 7 presidential election.
The election will pit Akufo-Addo against his main challenger Mahama, a former president who lost to Akufo-Addo in a 2016 election, and other candidates from smaller parties.