Rawlings’ takeover in 1979 and 1981 was marked by the dictatorial regime and the execution of senior military officers, including General Frederick Agufo, who was overthrown in the first coup.
“A big tree has fallen and Ghana is poor for this loss,” incumbent President Nana Aguirre said in a statement.
National flags will be flown at half mast for a week from Friday across the West African country, he said. The president and vice president, who are members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), will suspend political campaigns for the December 7 general election for the same period.
Former President John Mahama, who will run again this year in the presidential election campaign of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) founded by Rawlings, will immediately implement his six-day campaign tour of the Asanti region, his campaign spokesman said in a statement.
Rawlings first came to power in the 1979 coup when he was an Air Force lieutenant. He soon transferred power to civilian rule, but then two years later led to another regime change, determined by government corruption and weak leadership.
From 1981 to 1993, he ruled as head of a joint military-civilian government. In 1992 he was elected president under a new constitution and accepted the post the following year.
As president, he liberalized Ghana’s economy and encouraged investment in the oil and gold sectors.
In 2001, he handed over power to John Kufur, an opposition member who had defeated Rawlings’ vice president in the previous year.
Since stepping down, Rawlings has been a power broker in Ghanaian politics, serving in various international diplomatic positions, including representing the African Union in Somalia.