Ghana’s president, John Atta Mills, died Tuesday at a military hospital in Accra shortly after falling ill. Officials did not give a cause of death. Vice President John Dramani Mahama was sworn in to finish Mills’s term.
President John Atta Mills died five months short of finishing his first term in office and only days after celebrating his 68th birthday. He was set to run for a second term in elections planned for December 7. His death has taken the nation by surprise.
Shopkeeper Teresa Ayerakwo closed her shop early on Tuesday. “In fact, today I am sad. I won’t eat today. Never. My husband is dead, but today’s death is very, very paining for me. He is a Christian. He was nice to everybody, how he speak, he’s very gentle, you see, and he care for us. I don’t think I can vote again. Never. Very painful for me,” she said.
Mills was elected president in 2009, following a close runoff election that was praised by observers as a free, fair and peaceful transition of power. It was his third and only successful bid for the presidency.
The Ghanaian leader reiterated his commitment to political stability during a visit with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in March.
“We have an election this year, but we are going to ensure there is peace before, during and after. When there is no peace, it is not the leaders who suffer, it is the ordinary people who have elected us into office. So we have a big challenge, and we know that some of our friends in Africa are looking up to us, and we dare not fail them,” he said.