Former President Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, has defended his overthrow of the constitutionally elected Hilla Limann government in 1981, citing failure on the part of the People’s National Party (PNP) to safeguard the gains of the June 4th Uprising.
Flt. Lt. J.J Rawlings, prior to becoming the first President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana in 1992, led two coup d’etats – first in 1979 and second in 1981, 31 December, to overthrow the regimes of General F. K. Akuffo of the Supreme Military Council II and President Hilla Limann of People’s National Party, respectively.
He explained that the coup of June 4, 1979 popularly known as the June 4th Revolution or Uprising, orchestrated by junior ranked military personnel, was necessitated by the need to bring an end to the corruption, rot and abuse of power that had become the order of the day.
These vices, the former leader of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) indicated were creeping back into the Ghanaian society when power was handed over to PNP’s Hilla Limann in September 1979, in addition to widespread unrest and disunity among the populace.
Speaking at the 40th anniversary ceremony to mark the June 4 Uprising, the former Head of State asserted, “It’s been 40 long years since June 4th, 1979. Four decades ago, had the charge in the atmosphere been ignited anywhere between 12 midnight and 2am, the explosion of June 4th would have happened on the early night of 15th May. In like manner, ladies and gentlemen, had those who climbed into the seat of power three months later, learnt the lessons of the June 4th uprising, 31st December 1981 could have been avoided.”
“Instead of the then government taking up the challenge to lead a nation that was pumped up and ready to continue to rectify the rot, of the past, to defy any obstacle and to solidify the unity and purposefulness of our nation, the reverse is what occurred. This heightened the fever for June 4th” Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings told the gathering at the June 4 parade and durbar held in Nungua, a coastal Ga community.
The Former President also called for an urgent amendment and revision of the Constitution which was instituted in 1992.
He argued that most portions of the current Constitution has outlived their usefulness and can no longer be used as vehicles to serve the interest of citizens.
He further advocated for the repeal of the indemnity clauses which in his view served as a shield for many political office holders to engage in distasteful acts against the interest of the State.
These he insisted will restore the confidence of the people in the Constitution as it is rapidly eroding and may lead to dire consequences.
“There are many constitutional clauses that do not serve our interest. Over the years the indemnity clauses have emboldened certain characters to abuse their offices and profit themselves. It is quite evident that a lot of our people are losing confidence in our constitutional mandate. The constitution of the Fourth Republic was created by us, for us and to serve us, and in light of the 25 years, there is an unqualified need to reform or rewrite our current constitution. An urgent constituent assembly ought to be established with the necessary powers to rewrite the constitution,” Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings insisted.
The event in Nungua was well attended by Members of the NDC, former members of the AFRC and PNDC regimes that undertook the coups.