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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ghana’s President Atta Mills Dies Months Before Seeking 2nd Term

John Atta Mills, who was elected president in the closest vote in Ghana’s history and then led the West African country amid newfound oil wealth, died Tuesday just months before the end of his first term. He was 68.

Ghanaian state-run television stations GTV and TV3 broke into regular programming to announce the president’s death. Chief of Staff John Henry Martey Newman told the nation that Atta Mills had died Tuesday afternoon at the 37th Military Hospital in Accra but gave no details about the cause of his death.
Information Minister Fritz Baffour later confirmed that Atta Mills had died but also declined to comment further.

According to state-run media, Ghana’s parliament was to hold an emergency meeting immediately.

The president celebrated his 68th birthday Saturday. Atta Mills served as president as Ghana began grappling with how to deal with its newfound oil wealth from offshore fields discovered in the last five years.

“We are hearing that he died of cancer of the throat. I saw him in Addis Ababa — not this meeting, but the one maybe six months ago,” said the official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. “He was walking slowly. I am surprised to learn that he is only 68. He looked much older.”

Still, the official said that no one suspected that he was gravely ill. “Yes, his death is a surprise — it’s six months before the election, and he was a candidate.”


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