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The Story of Dr. Hilla Limann, The Only President of the Third Republic of Ghana

Hilla Limann  born on 12 December 1934  and died on 23 January 1998 was the President of Ghana from 24 September 1979 to 31 December 1981. Eventually he became a diplomat, and served in Switzerland. Limann, whose original last name was Babini, was born in the northern Gold Coast town of Gwollu in the Sissala West District of the Upper West Region to a poor family. He managed to gain an excellent education, and took up an academic career.

Hilla completed his basic school education at the Government Middle School, Tamale, in 1949. Between 1957 and 1960, he studied Political Science at the London School of Economics. He subsequently completed a Diploma in French at the Sorbonne University, France. He also obtained a BA (Hons) degree in History at the University of London and a Ph.D in Political Science and Constitutional Law at the University of Paris.

Foreign Service

Dr. Limann worked as the Head, Europe Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ghana between 1965 and 1968. During 1967, he was a member of the Constitution Commission which drafted the 1969 Constitution of Ghana. In 1968, he became the Head of Chancery/Official Secretary at the Ghana embassy in LoméTogo. He was appointed Counsellor at Ghana’s Permanent Mission in Geneva, Switzerland in 1971. He assumed the position of Head, Europe, the Americans Southeast Asia Desk back in Ghana at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in June 1975.

Politics

Following the 1979 coup led by Jerry Rawlings, Limann, though almost unknown even in Ghana, was elected President on the People’s National Party ticket and had strong support among followers of former Ghana President Kwame Nkrumah. He stood for the elections following the disqualification of Alhaji Imoru Egala by the then ruling Supreme Military Council and won 62% of the popular vote in the second round of voting.

Dr. Limann assumed office as president on 24 September 1979. He was an economic moderate, and supported democratic values and Pan-Africanism. He was deposed in a coup by Rawlings on 31 December 1981. He thus was the only president of the third republic of Ghana.

In 1992, at the end of the PNDC military rule that overthrew him, Dr. Limann once again found himself involved in politics and stood as the candidate of the People’s National Convention in the presidential election that year. He received 6.7% of the popular vote in the elections, coming third. He remained active among the Nkrumahist political movement in Ghana.

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Death

Dr. Limann had chronic health problems and later died of natural causes. He was survived by his wife, Mrs. Fulera Limann, and seven children: Lariba Montia (née Limann), Baba Limann, Sibi Andan (née Limann), Lida Limann, Daani Limann, Zilla Limann and Salma Limann.

Addendum

After the handover ceremony in 1979, Military intelligence personnel consistently reported destabilising activities of former members of the AFRC. Dr. Limman insisted that there were no legal justifications to hold them in custody under a democratic dispensation. This decision eventually cost him the presidency and the years of humiliation and alienation he suffered at the hands of the Rawlings administration.

Hilla Limann Foundation

The Hilla Limann Foundation is a charity that was launched on the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of his presidency in September 2019. Its aims are to end the abuse of human rights through education, championing the cause of human development for the poor and vulnerable, engender enlightenment about true democracy and promote the awareness of human rights.

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