A military officer stands guard at the lay in state. Soldiers are already patroling Independence Square in Accra, where the funeral will be held. The organization of Rawlings's funeral quickly turned political: He has a right to a state funeral, however, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party demanded it be involved — despite Rawlings's very public split from the party in 2009.
Ghana’s longest-serving leader, former President Jerry John Rawlings, will be buried on Wednesday.
His body has been lying in state since Monday and hundreds of people have taken the opportunity to pay their last respects.
The funeral rituals are taking place with strict enforcement of coronavirus restrictions.
Remembering a leader
A photograph of the late former Ghanaian President Jerry John Rawlings is displayed at the Accra International Conference Center, where Rawlings is lying in state. The former president died on November 12 at the age of 73. His funeral was originally scheduled for December 23, however, it was postponed, with the foreign ministry citing “unforeseen circumstances.”
Rawlings died on 12 November at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in the capital, Accra, after a short illness. He was 73 years old.
He was credited with maintaining Ghana’s stability.
Waiting to pay respects
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, mourners who wish to pay their final respects to Rawlings are being asked to respect social distancing measures and wear face masks. On Tuesday, January 26, Ghana’s president and vice president, along with high-ranking members of the judiciary and legislature, will be invited to say their final goodbyes before the burial service on Wednesday.
Rawlings led a military regime for more than a decade before returning the country to multiparty democracy in 1992.
Saying goodbye in song
Rawlings’ former staff come together and sing outside the Accra International Conference Center during the lay in state. Rawlings held political sway over Ghana for two decades: First as a military leader from 1981 until 1993 and then as president until 2001. A left-wing populist-turned-free-market-economist, Rawlings became a major figure in West Africa, as well as a symbol of pan-Africanism.
He also contributed to peace efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the civil wars in the 1990s and most recently was an African Union envoy to Somalia.
People wait to take their turn at the lay in state of the late former Ghana President Jerry John Rawlings at the Accra International Conference center. Many political figures and traditional leaders are at odds over Rawlings’s legacy, however, he was long widely considered a voice for the poor.
He will be remembered as a disciplinarian but also as a leader who cared about the poor.
Ghana’s former President Jerry Rawlings arrives for the the swearing-in of Ghana’s new President Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra, Ghana January 7, 2017.
BBC, VOA, DW 9News Nigeria