Magazine article New African

What to Do with Rawlings? (Ghana)

Magazine article New African

What to Do with Rawlings? (Ghana)

Article excerpt

Ghanaians everywhere must have listened with dismay, when former President Jerry Rawlings warned of a possible coup if the new government that replaced his, continued with the "harassment" (a euphemism for the corruption trials) of former members of his government, which he said, was politically motivated

Rawlings, in pronouncements, which have been widely interpreted to mean current events could lead to a coup, said the new government of President John Kufour did not have the support of the military.

"Things of this nature can degenerate into hatred and when it does, boom," Rawlings told his party loyalists at a lecture in Accra to mark "June 4", the military uprising that shot him into power in June 1979. The uprising by young officers (against the SMCII military government) was led by the then Capt Kojo Boakye Djan (see NA, Feb & March 2001). But it has since become the central plank in Rawlings life even though he played almost zero per cent in its actual execution as he was in detention for an earlier failed coup attempt on 15 May 1979.

Rawlings has become so emotionally attached to "June 4", that years later when he formed a commando unit (to guard his person) as a civilian president, he called it the 64th Batallion -- 64 standing for June (the 6th month) and 4 (the day), June 4.

Thus, when parliament (under the Kufour government) abolished the celebration of "June 4" only a day to the event this year, Rawlings felt sorely affronted. To him, June 4 is the central core of his being, without which he is diminished as a person, soldier and politician.

Interestingly, the corruption that characterised the last years of his 20-year rule, runs counter to what "June 4" stood for.

Somehow, some of his former AFRC colleagues, such as Major Boakye Djan who led the uprising, have a relaxed view of "June 4". Djan even eased the hand of parliament by sending a note from his base in London (widely published in the Ghanaian media), saying if parliament so desired, the celebration could be laid to rest.

But Rawlings sees it differently. In what appeared to be a veiled threat, he told his party loyalists that the Kufour government was making the same mistakes that led to the uprising in 1979.

As expected, condemnation of his remarks has come thick and fast from all sections of Ghanaian society. …

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