Tributes have been pouring in following the death on Thursday in Accra of Ghana’s former president, Jerry John Rawlings, at the age of 73 years.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari expressed heartfelt condolences saying “the entire African continent will sorely miss the sterling qualities of the great leader”.
He also said he believes that “the passion, discipline and moral strength that the former Ghanaian leader employed to reposition his country over many years” would “continue to reverberate across the continent and beyond”.
Buhari also hoped that Rawlings’ ideas for development in Africa will always be remembered.
President of Liberia, George Weah, said, “Ghana, Liberia and Africa will miss a great leader.
“Liberia remembers his immense contribution to the attainment and sustainment of peace during our dark days of our own history.”
African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said: “Africa has lost a stalwart of Pan-Africanism and a charismatic continental statesman.
“My sincere condolences to his family, the people and the government of Ghana.”
Pam-Africanist Professor PLO Lumumba in a Facebook post said: “I am sad to learn of the demise of President Jerry Rawlings, a good friend and great man. Let us honour him by emulating his courage and candour. J. J. Old Soldiers never die.”
Former Nigerian Vice president, Atiku Abubakar, tweeted, “Jerry Rawlings was an African giant. His tenure as leader of Ghana remains emblematic with the restoration of that country. Even after office, he stood tall for African unity and renaissance.”
Meanwhile, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has declared seven days of national mourning in honour of the former President.
In a statement issued by the Presidency, he said: “I have directed that all national flags should fly at half mast for the next seven days in all parts of the country and I have declared seven days of national mourning from Friday 13th November 2020.”
“I convey the deep sympathies of the government and the people of Ghana to his wife Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the children and the family of the late president in these difficult times.”
The statement said the Government will work closely with the family of the late president on the arrangements for “a fitting funeral” for him.
“A great tree has fallen, Ghana is poorer for this loss,” he said.
However, the family of the former president has asked for privacy as it mourns him.
“The family requests privacy at this difficult moment,” his eldest child, Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, said in a statement in Accra.
Late Rawlings led two coups, first in 1979, before twice being elected president in multi-party elections.
He was a charismatic figure whose fight against corruption led to the execution of several former heads of state for their alleged graft and mismanagement.
Reports from Ghana say that the former president died in hospital in the capital, Accra, after a short illness.