Biography of the Late Jerry John Rawlings – Ghana’s Longest-Serving President and the Only Man to Partake in 3 Coups


Former Ghanaian President Ft. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, popularly known as J.J Rawlings, has passed away.

Rawlings died earlier today, November 12th 2020, at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. He was 73.

In Ghana’s political history, there are few more consequential and influential than the late former Air Force pilot.

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Rawlings was Ghana’s longest serving head of state, having been in charge of the country for approximately 20 years. He was a part of 3 coup d’etats, 2 successful and one unsuccessful, and also served two terms as a democratically elected President.

Between 1982-2001, Rawlings was the most important figure in Ghanaian society. He played a huge role in moving the country to multiparty democracy and ensured its survival when he acquiesced to a peaceful transition of power after the NDC lost elections in 2000.

Aside Nkrumah, no Ghanaian leader had the impact and influence Rawlings had, not to mention the charisma. For all his flaws he would go down as one of Ghana’s greatest ever leaders.

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Below is Rawlings’ full biography from jjrawlings.com.

Jerry John Rawlings (born 22 June 1947 in Accra, Gold Coast) is a Ghanaian former air force officer and politician. He was twice the head of state of Ghana and was the 1st President of the Fourth Republic. He first appeared on the Ghanaian political scene on 15 May, 1979 when he led a group of junior officers in the Ghana Air Force in an unsuccessful coup d’état that resulted in his arrest and imprisonment. He was court-martialled in public and sentenced to death. Due to his display of patriotism in his defense speeches, he was widely seen across the country as a true son of Ghana, and was nicknamed Junior Jesus for his initials “JJ”.

Before he could be executed, another group of junior officers within the Ghana Army led by Major Boakye-Djan, overthrew the then military government of Lieutenant General Fred Akuffo in a bloody coup on June 4, 1979. Major Boakye-Djan and his men also set Rawlings free from prison, and installed him as head of the new government – the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). At the time of the coup, Ghana was already far into the process of returning to civilian rule and general elections were already scheduled. Hence, the AFRC went ahead to conduct an election and handed over power to Dr. Hilla Limann who won the popular vote in the election to establish the Third Republic.

Less than two years later, Dr. Limann’s civilian and constitutional government was overthrown again by Jerry Rawlings on 31 December, 1981. He then installed the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) regime. In all Jerry Rawlings performed three coups d’état in Ghana, two of which were successful.

In the early 1990s internal pressures led by a group identified with the Danquah-Busia tradition coupled with external pressures from Ghana’s development partners forced the PNDC government to adopt constitutional rule. As elections drew near, he switched from being a military Head of State, retired from the military, then ran and won in the 1992 elections which the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) claimed was a stolen verdict although international observers judged the elections largely free and fair.

After two terms in office, barred by the constitution from standing in any election, he anointed his vice-president John Atta Mills as his choice to replace him as President. Ghanaians rejected his choice in the 2000 election by voting for the opposition NPP’s candidate, John Kufuor.

Rawlings is married to Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and has four children: three girls and a boy. He is the joint recipient of the 1993 World Hunger Award.

Appointment As AU High Representative For Somalia

On 8 October 2010 the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Jean Ping appointed Mr. Jerry John Rawlings, as the AU High Representative for Somalia.

The appointment of Mr. Rawlings is a follow‐up to the decision on the Report of the Peace and Security Council of the AU on its Activities and the State of Peace and Security in Africa, adopted by the Assembly of the Union at its 15th Ordinary Session held in Kampala, Uganda, from 25 to 27 July 2010. In that decision, the Assembly of the Union, having endorsed the communiqué of the 15th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), held in Addis Ababa on 5 July 2010, requested the

Chairperson of the Commission to appoint a high‐level personality to mobilize increased support for efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Somalia and generate greater attention from the international community.

This appointment came as the situation in Somalia continues to be of particular concern. In this context, the appointment of Mr. Rawlings bears testimony to the renewed commitment of the AU, in close coordination with IGAD, to work towards the successful conclusion of the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia, including through strengthening the AU Mission in that country (AMISOM), broadening the political base of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) and enhancing their legitimacy, the acceleration of the implementation of the pending transitional tasks, and building the capacity of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to enable it to assume their responsibilities, including the provision of basic services to the civilian population.

As the AU High Representative, Mr. Rawlings will undertake advocacy work to further mobilize the continent and the rest of the international community to fully assume its responsibilities and contribute more actively to the quest for peace, security and reconciliation in Somalia. In this regard, he will work in close coordination with the countries of the region, the United Nations, including the Security Council and its members, the European Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Conference and other bilateral and multilateral partners.



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