Former Ghanaian military leader and President, Jerry John Rawlings, has passed on.
The 73-year-old died of coronavirus complications at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, the capital of Ghana, on Thursday morning.
He had been admitted at the hospital shortly after he buried his mother about a month ago.
Rawlings, a military ruler, who later joined politics, ruled Ghana from 1981 to 2001.
He led a military junta until 1992, and then served two terms as the democratically elected president of Ghana
A flight lieutenant of the Ghanaian Air Force, Rawlings first staged military coup as a young revolutionary on May 15, 1979, five weeks before scheduled elections to return the country to civilian rule.
When it failed, he was imprisoned, publicly court-martialed and sentenced to death.
After initially handing power over to a civilian government, he took back control of the country on 31 December 1981 as the chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).
Rawlings as leader of Ghana launched a massive anti-corruption campaign that purged the nation of corrupt political elements.
He then resigned from the military, founded the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and became the first president of the Fourth Republic.
He was re-elected in 1996 for four more years. After two terms in office, the limit according to the Ghanaian constitution, Rawlings endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as presidential candidate in 2000.
He was until his death, the African Union envoy to Somalia.
A former Nigerian Presidential candidate and media mogul, Dele Momodu, confirmed the sad news in a tweet.
“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.”
COVID-19: Kenyan Lawmaker Seeks Dedicated Road Lanes For Ambulances
A Kenyan lawmaker, Nominated Senator Iman Falhada Dekow, has asked the parliament to create designated special lanes on major roads and highways for ambulances.
According to Dekow, creating designated road lanes for ambulances will ease emergency medical evacuation during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
She noted that the Traffic Act 403 Section 119 provides special treatment of ambulances when they are taking people to hospital but most drivers in the East African country make it hard for the vehicles to rush patients in need of emergency medical services to the hospitals.
Dekow said most motorists do not give way for the ambulances forcing them to manoeuvre traffic yet they are carrying critical patients.
“It is important that traffic police enforce traffic rules and ensure motorists who block ambulances are arrested,” she said.
She said the trend is common in towns with high traffic levels, such as Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru and Mombasa.
The Traffic Act 403 Section 119 validates traffic Rule 83, which states that: “Drivers should give right of way upon hearing sirens indicating the approach of police vehicles, ambulances or fire engines.”
“We are in the middle of a pandemic and without a coordinated response to these incidents; there is a potential of unnecessary increase in morbidity and mortality,” Dekow said.
US Removes All Visa Reciprocity Fees For Nigerians
Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday disclosed that the United States has removed all visa reciprocity fees for Nigerians seeking visas to the US with effect from December 3.
Ferdinand Nwonye, the foreign ministry spokesman, in a statement, said the move was sequel to the removal of excess visa application, processing and biometric fees for American citizens applying for Nigerian visas.
The statement was titled, ‘Update on the removal of visa fees for Nigerian citizens by the US Government,’ advised prospective travellers to the US to visit www.travel.state.gov for details.”
Nwonye said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that the United States Government has removed all visa reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens seeking visas to the United States.
“The positive development is in line with the removal of excess visa application, processing and biometric fees for United States citizens applying for Nigerian visas by the Nigerian
“The United States Government has, therefore, eliminated reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens with effect from December 3, 2020.”
The United States had imposed reciprocity fee for all approved non-immigrant visa applications by Nigerians in 2019. The fee was charged in addition to visa application fees for only applicants who are issued visas.
The additional reciprocity fees which ranged from $80 to $303 depending on the class of visa, took effect from August 29 last year.
The US Embassy in Nigeria said the reciprocity fees were in response to unsuccessful talks with Nigeria to adjust the fees it charges American applicants.
It argued that the total cost for a US citizen to obtain a visa to Nigeria was higher than the total cost for a Nigerian to obtain a comparable visa to the United States.
The Mission insisted that the reciprocity fee was meant to eliminate the cost difference as required by US laws.
Ghanaians Sure Presidential, Parliamentary Elections Will Be Peaceful
Ghanaians have expressed confidence the forthcoming presidential elections will be peaceful, free and fair.
Ghana will hold the election on December 7. About 17 people are expected to participate in the elections at 38,622 polling stations across the country to elect a President and 275 members of parliament.
A former broadcaster and media consultant, John Osei Tutu Agyeman, believes in the ability of the security services to ensure a peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the elections.
“We have had these same fears in the past, but the elections in 2012 and 2016 turned out to be peaceful and beautiful.
“And I believe the security services will rise to the occasion again to preserve the peace in the country,” Agyeman, also director of the Institute of Media Practice, a media think tank, told Xinhua.
Director of Kingdom Concept Consult Princess Sekyere-Bih believed the West African country said it got assurance from the police that the elections would be peaceful.
“Not only have they deployed more trained men, but this time, they have more resources to ensure peace,” said she.
Although there were clashes between party supporters during the voter registration in June and July, the 2020 election campaign has been largely peaceful as the Coronavirus pandemic limited outdoor activities.
“This gives us a foretaste of what might happen.
“So it must inform about the strategies which the police will put in place for peace during the election,” Aremeyaw Shaibu, chairman of the Ghana-based Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, said.
Shaibu urged the security services to be at their professional best to ensure a peaceful atmosphere during and after the polls.
Although some were apprehensive due to some isolated events, the larger Ghanaian society is hopeful of a peaceful outcome for the elections, according to recent findings by the Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana (CDD-Ghana).
“Stakeholders are important,” said Rhoda Osei-Afful, an expert at CDD.
She added that the Electoral Commission (EC) “is at the helm of affairs as far as the election is concerned.
“How they engage the electorate, the political parties and their electoral officials is going to be critical in ensuring peace.
The expert also urged political parties to help their supporters channel their grievances into the EC through laid-down channels to minimise the incidents of unnecessary rancour.
The Ghana police service has identified 4,098 areas where chaos is likely to erupt ahead of the elections and provided reports to the National Election Security Taskforce to guide its tactical arrangements and deployments across 16 regions.
The 4,098 flashpoints include historical election-related hot spots and locations where other forms of violence and crime have occurred in history, said Yaw Nketia Yeboah, a spokesman for the Ghana police service.
Urging the citizenry to be law-abiding, the spokesman said: “Don’t go and teach people whom to vote for at the polling station.
“If you have any campaigning to do, do it in your houses, not at the polling stations.”
Monday’s presidential election is the third time that incumbent President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and former President John Dramani Mahama will run for presidency.
Political parties have shifted their campaign activities into top gear.
The two main candidates in the country’s presidential election committed to peaceful voting signing a peace pact on Friday on behalf of their respective political parties.
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