BY WALTER OPINDE
On this day, 22nd June, 1947, John Jerry Rawlings was born in Accra, Ghana. Rawlings was a controversial Ghanaian President who served on and off between 1993 and 2001. Therefore, Rawlings is a former head of state and president of Ghana.
John Rawlings initially came to power in Ghana as a flight lieutenant in the Ghana Air Force following a coup d’état in 1979. After initially handing power over to a civilian government, Rawlings took back control of the country on 31st December, 1981 as the Chairman of the Provisional National Defense Council. In 1992, he resigned from the Armed Forces, founded the National Democratic Congress and became the first president of the Fourth Republic. He was re-elected in 1996 for a further four years. Rawlings currently serves as the African Union envoy to Somalia.
Jerry Rawlings attempted a coup d’état on 15th May, 1979, leading a group of military personnel in a coup attempt on General Fred Akuffo, which resulted in his arrest, imprisonment, and facing a death sentence. However, a speech he gave during his trial resonated with a large section of the public that rose up in his defense. Consequently, on 4th June, soldiers sympathetic to his motivations broke him out of jail, and he led a revolt of both the military and civilians which overthrew General Akuffo and the Supreme Military Council, effectively leaving him in charge. Rawlings and the soldiers around him formed the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and conducted what it termed “a housecleaning exercise“, whose aim was to purge Ghanaian society of all the corruption and social injustices that they perceived to be at the root of their coup d’état.
The AFRC organized an election, which was won by Hilla Limann of the People’s National Party (PNP). On 31st December, 1981 Rawlings and together with some soldiers and civilians took advantage of New Year festivities organized by Limann and overthrew the Limann government, citing economic mismanagement. Rawlings then installed the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) with himself as the Chairman.
By 1992, Rawlings retired from the military and set up the National Democratic Congress (NDC). He legalized political parties and organized Presidential and Parliamentary elections, in response to demands for a more democratic process concerning the governing of the country. Rawlings and his party won with 58.3% of the votes, with outside observers declaring the voting to be “free and fair.” In 1996, Rawlings went on to win a second term as the President of Ghana.
After two terms in office, barred by the constitution from standing in any election, Rawlings endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as a presidential candidate in 2000.
Read more of the story via: