John Atta Mills was weeks away from finishing his first term as president when he died of an unspecified illness in Accra Ghana’s president, John Evans Atta Mills, has died, leaving the nation in shock.
Mills, 68, was months away from completing his first term in office when he was taken ill on Tuesday suffering from an unspecified illness. Crowds gathered around the 37 Military Hospital in the capital, Accra, in a mass outpouring of grief in the west African nation.
The news follows weeks of speculation about his health after a decline in public appearances and a trip to the US for medical reasons which the president insisted was for a “routine check-up”.
Mills’s death was announced publicly on Tuesday afternoon after hours of rumours and a near communications blackout in Accra. A statement from the office of the president said: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sudden and untimely death of the president of the republic of Ghana.”
MPs were being summoned to the parliament in Accra for the swearing-in of the vice-president, John Dramani Mahama, amid reassurances that the president’s death would not spark a constitutional crisis.
But there were questions as to how the death, which is the first of a serving president in Ghana’s 55 years as an independent nation, would affect elections due to take place in December. Mills, who had begun campaigning for re-election for the ruling National Democratic Congress party, was expected to fight a narrow contest with the opposition National Patriotic party.