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Ghana president John Atta Mills dies after illness, Successor John Dramani Mahama sworn in

By Austin Amuzie - Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Ghana President John Atta Mills has died, just hours after being taken ill and months before he was to seek re-election in a country seen as a bastion of democracy in west Africa.

The 68-year-old Mills, who oversaw the start of large-scale oil production in Ghana in December 2010, had recently traveled to the United States for a medical check-up. His cause of death was not given.

In accordance with Ghana's constitution, Vice President John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as president before an emergency session of parliament, pledging to maintain stability as he serves out the remainder of Mills' term.

"I wish Ghanaians to be assured that all is well," the 53-year-old who has also served as communications minister and recently published a memoir said. "We are going to maintain the peace, unity and stability that Ghana is noted for." 
He declared a week of national mourning, with flags to be flown at half-mast.
Mills died in a hospital in the capital Accra while receiving treatment, his office said. While the cause was not specified, he had shown signs of illness, including recently losing his voice and a gradual loss of weight.
His recent visit to the United States was officially for a routine medical check-up. There were unconfirmed reports in local media that he had suffered throat cancer, while false rumours of his death had also previously spread.
Presidential elections are set for December in a country seen as a rare example of a stable democracy in west Africa and which recently joined the ranks of the world's large-scale oil producers. Mills was to be the ruling party's candidate after fending off an unprecedented challenge for the nomination.
Condolences poured in for the late leader, including from US President Barack Obama who chose Ghana for his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as president in 2009.
"President Mills tirelessly worked to improve the lives of the Ghanaian people," Obama said in a statement.
"He helped promote economic growth in Ghana in the midst of challenging global circumstances and strengthened Ghana's strong tradition of democracy."
West African leaders, including those in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Togo, also paid tribute to Mills, while UN chief Ban Ki-moon praised his "statesmanship."

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