News / Africa

    Ghana's President John Atta Mills Dead at 68

    Ghana's President John Evans Atta Mills.
    Ghana's President John Evans Atta Mills.
    Anne Look

    DAKAR — 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. 
     

    • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, center, pays her respects after signing the guest book for Ghana's late President John Atta Mills' funeral in Accra, Ghana, August 10, 2012.
    • People walk to pay tribute to late President John Atta Mills at the parliament in Accra, Ghana, August 9, 2012.
    • A hearse carries the body of late President John Atta Mills to the parliament in Accra, Ghana, August 8, 2012.
    • Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama (C) arrives for the beginning of the three days of funeral ceremonies for late President John Atta Mills, Accra, Ghana, August 8, 2012.
    • Ghana President John Atta Mills attends the Chicago Council's Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, May 18, 2012.
    • US President Barack Obama sits with Ghana's President John Atta Mills, right, and President Yayi Boni of Benin during a luncheon on Food Security at the G-8 Summit at Camp David, May 19, 2012.
    • John Atta Mills visits the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and talks with specialist Jennifer Klesaris December 15, 2011.
    • Ghana's President John Atta Mills, right, gestures as he speaks after being sworn in as the country's new president during a ceremony in Accra, Ghana, January 7, 2009.
    • John Atta Mills after he won the presidency of Ghana, January 3, 2009.
    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. 

    Watch VOA's Shaka Ssali's '09 interview with President Mills


    During the past two years, Mills presided over one of the fastest growing economies in the world.  But he faced some criticism that Ghana's economic boom has yet to include average citizens who face high rates of unemployment and poverty. 


    Supporters like Efua Mensima say they are sad Mills will not be able to finish what he started.

    "I miss him, I miss him.  I miss him personally and I miss his visions for Ghana.  I miss what he lived for, for everybody to create an enabling environment; for everybody to work, earn a living; for everybody to get free access to education, to health, to social activities like recreation and, well, for everybody to live and enjoy as a human," he said. 

    A distinguished law professor and taxation expert, Mills taught at the University of Ghana for more than 25 years.

    He served in various financial posts in government before taking on the role of vice president from 1997 to 2000 under Ghana's military dictator and later elected president, J.J. Rawlings.

    Mills was known to be a soft-spoken politician, a devout Christian and an avid hockey player.

    Laura Burke contributed reporting from Cape Coast, Ghana.
     

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Kobby Danzerl-Amedson from: Accra, Ghana
    July 25, 2012 4:30 AM
    We fail to notice a hero and good leader when his is alive. Its only after his/her death that we begin to understand his philosophy and ideals he stood for. I never enjoyed politics but can confidently say, that President Mills was the most selfless leader Ghana ever had. Nkrumah was over-ambitious about Africa but Mills over-ambition was for his nation, Ghana and its people.

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    July 25, 2012 3:43 AM
    I mourn the untimely death of sitting presitent of Ghana. I understand he was surely a faithful politician when I watched him speaking gently.

    by: Jah Crucial from: Accra
    July 24, 2012 11:54 PM
    It is rather unfortunate that we lost him, he was a good man, but Ghanaians must use this medium to crave for a better leadership so far as their econo-political issues are concerned. RIP Mr President, Damirifa.
    In Response

    by: jamal from: tamale
    July 25, 2012 2:38 PM
    I mourn the untimely death of sitting presitent of Ghana. I understand he was surely a faithful politician when I watched him speaking gently.
    may he rest in perfect peace ..?

    by: Edward John from: Liberia
    July 24, 2012 6:13 PM
    Africa has lost another Legend, i think this is a sad day for us as Africans as we morn the death of such an icon,, my condolence goes out to all Ghanian especially the Family of the professor.

    by: oko burgesson from: atomic hill estates,accra
    July 24, 2012 4:42 PM
    what a shock for ghanaians. may his soul rest in peace and God bless Ghana

    by: clifford from: hackensack,nj
    July 24, 2012 4:39 PM
    president mills RIP, you are gone but not forgotten

    by: lois from: accra
    July 24, 2012 2:42 PM
    actually, when he was president, other politicians took advantage of his illness to steal money.i'm sure he'll have more peace dead than when he was alive.

    by: samuel from: Lashibi
    July 24, 2012 2:22 PM
    the presidents death is an untimely one.He was very useful to Ghana very much irespectful of the bad comments people give about him.GOD KNOWS BEST

    by: Lartey from: Accra
    July 24, 2012 1:50 PM
    He was a great president Ghana and the whole of Africa has lost.He took our presidency to a higher level.He will be missed greatly.
    In Response

    by: mary from: uganda
    July 25, 2012 3:03 AM
    What a loss, we the people of Africa will surely miss him. He was a role model not only to the people of Ghana but to the entire African Continent. I pray that other leaders will emulate him, a man of integrity, humility and God fearing. To me i looked at him as the King David of this generation. May God strengthen the people of Ghana and bring you a better leader....
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora