ACCRA, 25 January 2021 – Ghana’s former president, Jerry Rawlings, is lying in state in the capital, Accra, ahead of his funeral Wednesday.
Many, many thousands of Ghanaians and visitors in the country have been invited to pay the late statesman their their last respects.
Rawlings, who was 73, died last November in a hospital in the capital.
The cause of death has not been disclosed.
The delay in his funeral has been attributed to disagreements over how soon it should have been held and exactly how it should be organized.
The Ghanaian government has had to make compromises with traditional authorities, who demanded to pay respects to him as a chief.
Living former Ghanaian presidents demanded that the funeral be organized in a certain manner and the government had to reconcile all these many demands with those of the family, Africa Freedom Network has learned from sources with knowledge of the funeral arrangements.
JJ, as he was called, lies in an open casket, surrounded by lit candles, flowers, and separated from mourners filing past by a glass partition raised like a guard of honor inside the main lobby of the Accra International Conference Center.
Dignitaries, the diplomatic corps and close family members were invited to a private wake ceremony Sunday night in the company of Rawlings’ widow, children and extended family.
Ambazonia will be represented at the state funeral by Ebenezer Akwanga, leader of the African People’s Liberation Movement (APLM).
JJ publicly took up and voiced support on several occasions in support of self-determination for the people of Southern Cameroons aka Ambazonia and so endeared himself to Akwanga that the APLM referred fondly to the former Ghanaian president as “my dear uncle”.
A flight captain, Rawlings led two coups – in 1979 and again in 1981.
While serving as leader of the junta following the first coup, he approved the execution of several former heads of state for their alleged involvement in corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
Some of Ghana’s former and active Supreme Court judges were also executed.
He was at the helm of the military junta until he was first elected president in 1992.
Rawlings stepped down after serving a second term in 2001 and is credited with laying the foundation of Modern Ghana.