Former Ghanaian President Rawlings Dies at 73 

Ghana is remembering former President Jerry Rawlings, an iconic figure who died Thursday in the capital, Accra, at the age of 73.    
 
Rawlings twice seized power in military coups, alleging government corruption, on his way to winning two terms as president before leaving office in 2001.  
 
Rawlings continued to hold political sway in Ghana while assuming diplomatic duties.  
 
He is credited with ushering in multiparty democracy in Ghana and boosting the country’s economic profile through investments.  
 
“This is the man who, in 1983, when the economy of Ghana was down on its knees, was bold enough in spite of his revolutionary enthusiasm to go to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank to bring the economy back on track,” says Kwesi Jonah, senior research fellow at the Institute of Democratic Governance.
 
“And this is also the man who — in 1992, when everybody thought that he would resist the return to civilian democratic politics — did in fact give in to pressure and allowed the country to return to multiparty democracy. And so he is a very, very big figure in political history.”
 
President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a statement on Rawlings’ death that “a great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss.”  
 
Akufo-Addo’s main rival in the December 7 election is the leader of Rawlings’ party, John Mahama, a former president who was defeated by Akufo-Addo four years ago.
 
Afkufo-Addo and Mahama temporarily suspended their campaigns Thursday following word of Rawlings’ death.
 
“You have also one week of national mourning,” Jonah told VOA. “After the end of this week, we are going to have a very intensive campaign. Yes, we are going to lose some time. But after that, at least the two major parties — the NDC (National Democratic Congress) and the NPP (New Patriotic Party) — will get into a very, very intensive campaign to finish hard.” 

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