Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. A long series of coups resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and a ban on political parties. A new constitution, restoring multiparty politics, was approved in 1992. Lt. Jerry RAWLINGS, head of state since 1981, won presidential elections in 1992 and 1996, but was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term in 2000. John KUFUOR, who defeated former Vice President Atta MILLS in a free and fair election, succeeded him.