Reformist president of Ghana dies suddenly

Ghana’s president John Atta Mill, who ran three times for the office before being elected in the closest vote in the country’s history, died suddenly yesterday. He was 68.

Ghana’s president John Atta Mill, who ran three times for the office before being elected in the closest vote in the country’s history, died suddenly yesterday. He was 68.

Chief of staff John Henry Martey Newman addressed the nation on state-run television stations GTV and TV3, saying that Mr Atta Mills died yesterday afternoon at the 37th Military Hospital in Accra. Mr Newman gave no details about the cause of death.

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Information minister Baffour also declined to elaborate. “Yes, I can confirm [his death], but I can’t say more,” he said.

The president celebrated his 68th birthday on Saturday. He was poised to seek re-election later this year.

Vice-president John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as president last night. He will hold the post until elections in December, according to the country’s constitution.

Mr Atta Mills was elected in 2008 after a run-off vote and was to run for a second term. He campaigned on a platform of change, arguing that the western African country’s growth had not been felt in people’s wallets.

“People are complaining. They’re saying that their standard of living has deteriorated these past eight years,” he said recently. “So if Ghana is a model of growth, it’s not translating into something people can feel.”

Mr Atta Mills even put up posters of himself standing next to a cut-out of US president Barack Obama in an effort to emphasise that the Ghanaian stood for change.

Mr Atta Mills spent much of his career teaching at the University of Ghana. He earned a doctorate from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies before becoming a Fulbright scholar at Stanford University in California.