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Ghanaians to Bury Late President Atta-Mills Friday

  • Peter Clottey

Ghana's new 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 Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009.
Ghana’s late president, John Atta-Mills, is scheduled to be buried in the capital, Accra Friday.

The spokesman for newly installed President John Dramani Mahama says Ghanaians are in mourning as the country gets ready to say a final farewell to the country’s late leader.

Spokesman John Jinapor said that despite the scheduled December election, all political activity has been suspended as a sign of respect as well as tribute to Atta-Mills.

“The planning committee has done a fantastic job… Normally when you are doing things for the first time you are likely to commit one error or the other…, but in general, I think that they have done very well," said Jinapor.

Some expressed concern about the cost of the funeral, including a speculated $30,000 casket to be used to bury the president.

“Those issues have been ironed out. The only worry is that there has been too much speculation, too many fabricated stories and falsehood being bandied around,” said Jinapor. “The overall view is that we are united in sorrow. We’ve lost a giant. We have lost an elderly statesman, [and] a man of accomplishment.”

This is the first time a Ghanaian president has died while in office. Atta-Mills, 68, died July 24 at the 37 Military Hospitals after being taken ill. He is expected to be buried at the Geese Park, located between Castle Drive and Marine Drive, near the Independence Square, Osu in Accra.

Vice President John Dramani Mahama was sworn into office hours after the president was declared dead.

Participating political parties in the December general election have suspended their campaigns ahead of the vote. Analysts however expect official campaign to begin soon after the late president is buried.

“There is unanimity and we have expressed solidarity in these difficult times. You would expect that after the funeral the political activities might pick up…but we are all mourning…and all of us are paying our tribute to our departed president,” said Jinapor.

He said President Mahama has called on politicians to respect their opponents in the run up to the election.

"The president has continued to preach that we should do our politics with a sense of decorum with a certain level of decency and within the atmosphere of peace and tranquility,” said Jinapor. “The politics should be a contestation of ideas and not a contestation of insults vituperations and abusive language.”