Ghana buries former president Jerry Rawlings with honors

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009 file photo, former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings attends the inauguration ceremony of Ghana's new President John Atta Mills in Accra, Ghana. Rawlings, who staged two coups and later led the West African country's transition to a stable democracy and who died aged 73 on Nov. 12, 2020, was buried in Accra, Ghana on Wednesday Jan. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Olivier Asselin, File) (AP2009)

ACCRA – Ghana’s late president Jerry John Rawlings was buried at the country’s military cemetery in the capital after four days of commemorations to mark the death of the former leader who was loathed by some and loved by many in the West African nation.

Rawlings transformed from a military head of state who staged two coups to a democratically elected president who served for 19 years and is credited with laying the foundation for peaceful elections and transfers of power in Ghana.

At the age of 73, Rawlings died on Nov. 12, after a short illness at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in the capital, Accra.

His casket was paraded through the main streets in Accra Wednesday before his burial at the military cemetery at Burma Camp, the headquarters of Ghana’s armed forces.

In a tribute Wednesday, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recalled the country’s political past saying it “culminated in the emergence of President Rawlings in the political space,” adding that he was “charismatic, energetic and fearless” and won “admirers and lifelong enemies."

Akudo-Addo said it was not a secret that there was “open animosity” between him and Rawlings and they did not see eye to eye. “However with time, things changed,” he said.

“One thing we had in common is the commitment to public service,” Akufo-Addo said, adding that Rawlings helped to make Ghana's democracy “stable in our history for all his revolutionary antecedents,” which established two-term presidencies and orderly transfers of power.

The National Democratic Congress, the party Rawlings founded and through which he won power in the 1992 election, said the late president “is a legend in Ghana’s history,” adding that, “this was due to his commitment to promote those marginalized in society.”