The former president of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings, has died from an undisclosed ailment at the age of 73.
The former leader was admitted to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana’s capital, Accra, last week before giving up the ghost in the early hours of Thursday.
Nigerian media mogul, Dele Momodu, who has close links to the Ghanaian Presidency, confirmed the development on Twitter.
“The saddest news of this year. My God. Former President Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana has passed on. I’m completely devastated. Good night, an African hero,” he said.
Rawlings was born in Accra in June 1947, to a Ghanaian mother and a Scottish father. He came to global prominence in 1979 when, as an army lieutenant, he and six other soldiers staged a coup against the government of General Fred Akuffo five weeks prior to civilian elections.
When the coup failed, Rawlings was arrested by the Ghanaian Military and was publicly sentenced to death in a General Court Martial and imprisoned, although his statements on the social injustices that motivated his actions won him civilian sympathy.
Awaiting execution, he orchestrated another coup two years later, citing corruption and weak leadership.
Rawlings ruled as chairman of a joint military-civilian government from 1981- 1993. In 1992 he was elected president under a new constitution, fully assuming the role in 1993 and served for two terms.
He endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as presidential candidate in 2000 but was succeeded by John Agyekum Kufuor his main rival and opponent in 1996.