Ghana’s President John Atta Mills funeral to be held in Accra

By IndepthAfrica
In Ghana
Aug 10th, 2012
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A newspaper vendor holds on August 8, 2012 in Accra a copy a daily featuring late President John Atta Mills on the front page. Ghana began three days of funeral rites for Mills on August 8, with his body to lie in state ahead of his August 10 burial to be attended by foreign dignitaries, including Hillary Clinton. The death of Mills on July 24, five months ahead of polls in which he was to seek re-election, threw the West African nation into mourning and upended the presidential campaign in a country that recently joined the ranks of the world’s significant oil producers.

The funeral of Ghanaian President John Atta Mills, who died suddenly in July, is to be held in the capital Accra.

Thousands of Ghanaians are expected to attend, as well as some 18 African heads of state and visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mills, who had long suffered from throat cancer, died only five months before he was set to seek re-election.

The BBC’s Vera Kwakofi in Accra says his death united Ghanaians in grief, and many are still in shock.

She says his death was seen as a test for the country’s young democracy.

Mills, who started a four-year term in January 2009, was succeeded by Vice-President John Dramani Mahama.

Ghana has won international plaudits for the swift manner in which it handled the transition.

Mills is to be buried in a bird sanctuary next to the seat of government, the 17th-century Fort Christiansborg, also known as Osu Castle, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.

Tens of thousands of Ghanaians have been streaming into Accra in the past two days to pay their last respects to Mills as he lay in state.

Some mourners queued for hours, many of them wailing with grief, in lines up to 10km (6 miles) long outside the State House in Accra.

Hillary Clinton arrived from Nigeria to attend the funeral on Thursday, on the last stop of her 11-day seven-nation tour of Africa.

She is also due to hold talks with President Mahama.

Seen as a bastion of democracy in an often turbulent region, Ghana was chosen by President Barack Obama for his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as president in 2009.

Mills was a senior political figure for many years.

Between 1997-2001 he served as vice-president to former military ruler Jerry Rawlings, but distanced himself from his former boss.

He came to power after narrowly winning against a candidate from the then governing New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo, in polls in December 2008.

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