By Sanni Onogu, Abuja and Ernest Nwokolo, Abeokuta
Ghana’s former President Jerry John Rawlings is dead. He was 73.
His death came three weeks after he buried his mother, after which he took ill and admitted at the nation’s hospital, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, the country’s capital.
A week of national mourning has been announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Akufo-Addo directed that national flags should fly at half-mast for the next seven days in honour of the memory of Rawlings.
The President also declared seven days of national mourning from today to November 20.
In a statement announcing the passing of the former President, the President said he, together with deputy Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, have suspended their political campaigns for the same period.
In the statement, Akufo-Addo expressed sympathies to former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, her children and the family of the late President.
He said the government would work closely with the family Rawlings’ President on the arrangements for a fitting state funeral and would keep the nation informed accordingly.
In a condolence letter to Akufo-Ado, former President Olusegun Obasanjo mourned Rawlings’ death, describing him as a reliable friend and nation-builder.
Chief Obasanjo said Rawlings was particularly passionate about peace, security and leadership issues in Africa, saying he also provided the much-needed leadership and direction which impacted positively on the social stability and democratic progress recorded so far in Ghana.
Liberia’s President George Weah also commiserate via a tweet on his official twitter page with the people of Ghana over the demise of their leader.
Weah said in the tweet that Rawlings will be missed by Ghana, Liberia and Africa.
The presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, has suspended his six-day campaign tour of the Ashanti Region following the death of the party’s founder.
Mahama announced the suspension of his campaign at Obuasi yesterday afternoon, moments after news of Rawlings’ death.
He described the one-time military leader and two-time President of the Republic as an “iconic leader” and for That matter the NDC needed time and concentration to mourn his passing and celebrate his legacies.
Burkinabè President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré said he was saddened, saying with his death, Africa has lost a Pan-Africanist.
“We have also lost a man of conviction, a patriot who has been able to take his country to the path of growth and democracy,” Kaboré wrote.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar saw Rawlings death as a great loss to Africa.
Reacting in a tweet via his Twitter account, Atiku said the deceased was an African giant whose tenure as leader of Ghana remains emblematic with the restoration of that country.
Former Speaker of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, described the death as a devastating blow to Africa.