Thousands of Ghanaians including heads of the security agencies, leaders of political parties and the public thronged the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) to pay their last respect to former President Jerry John Rawlings, 73, in a state funeral which will be climaxed tomorrow January 27.
A mass and a vigil were held in his honor at the Holy Spirit Cathedral and the Air Force Officers Mess respectively on Sunday. This forms part of funeral activities lined up for the statesman who died on November 12, 2020, at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
In a somber mood, the mourners filed past the remains of the former President which was beautifully laid in state on a burgundy carpet, surrendered with white flowers in a glass cave at the foyer of the AICC. Two large photographs of the late President, one showing him in an Air Force gear and the other in civilian attire, had been placed at two opposite ends of the glass cave.
The mourners, who strictly observed all the COVID-19 protocols, were about five meters away from the glass cave of the former President. The file past lasted from 8 am till 6 pm Monday.
File past continue today
Today, the filing past will start with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, former Heads of State, as well as heads of constitutional bodies.
Also, Members of Parliament, led by the Speaker, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, former Speakers of Parliament, the Chief Justice, justices of the Supreme Court, former Chief Justices, former chairmen and members of the Council of State, former ministers of state, among others, will file past the body. Members of the Diplomatic Corps and organised groups will also pay their respects today.
Black Star Square
The Black Star Square, where a military burial service will be held tomorrow, is over 90 percent complete, a member of the state protocol supervising the decoration and setup told the paper. It is anticipated that thousands of mourners, including world leaders would be coming to take part in the final funeral rites tomorrow.
Former President Rawlings trained as an Air Force officer and spent 11 years working at the Air Force Base before he led the June 4, 1979 uprising, as a Flight Lieutenant, to topple the General F.W.K. Akuffo-led Supreme Military Council 2 (SMC 2) government.
He ruled Ghana twice as a military leader — first from June 4 to September 24, 1979 and then from December 31, 1981 to January 6, 1993 — before transitioning into a democratically elected President on January 7, 1993, following his victory in the presidential election earlier in November 1992.
The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has called on government to restrict the number of people at the ongoing funeral of Former President Rawlings in order to control the spread of Coronavirus.
According to the GMA, Ghanaians should be encouraged to follow the funeral on television instead of converging at the grounds. “Government should restrict the number of people attending the state funeral for the late H.E Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings and rather encourage people to follow proceedings on Television and other social media platforms,” the GMA said in a statement Monday.