John Mahama (C), the former deputy President of Ghana, attends his swear-in
ceremony as Ghana's President shortly after the announcement of the Mills'
death, in Accra, July 24, 2012. (Xinhua/Justice Lee Adoboe)|
ACCRA, July 24 (Xinhua) -- John Mahama, the former deputy President of Ghana, was sworn in as the fourth president shortly after the announcement of the unexpected death of President John Evans Atta Mills Mills' death on Tuesday evening in a smooth political transition.
Mrs. Joyce Bamford-Addo, the Speaker of Ghanaian Parliament announced in the House that Mr. John Mahama to be the President of the Republic of Ghana. Later, Mahama read the oath of the President under the administration of the Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood in the presence of the members of Parliament.
The Chief of Staff at the Presidency Henry Martey Newman announced the death of the president, saying he died at the 37 Military hospital in the capital while receiving medical attention after being taken ill.
Mr. Mahama said Mills was died on 14:15 (GMT) in the hospital after he was sent there in the noon.
President John Mahama takes over the remaining term of John Evans Atta Mills according to Ghana's Constitution 1992.
In his first address as the President, Mahama expressed the condolence to Mills' family and said the final tribute to Mills is to "maintain the unity, peace and stability of the nation. "
He declared the whole country mourning and all flags must fly at half mast.
Mr. John Mahama was first elected to the Parliament of Ghana in 1996. In April 1997, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Communications. In 2000, Mahama was re-elected for another four- year term as the Member of Parliament. He was again re-elected in 2004 for a third term. From 2001 to 2004, Mahama served as the Minority Parliamentary Spokesman for Communications. In 2002, he was appointed the Director of Communications for the National Democratic Congress. From 2009, he served as the deputy President of the Republic of Ghana.
"It is with a heavy heart ... that we announce the sudden and untimely death of the president of the Republic of Ghana," the president's office said, adding that Mills had died a few hours after being taken ill, without further details.
The 68-year-old president complained of pains Monday evening and was rushed to hospital Tuesday noon when his condition worsened, a source close to the president said.
He was in the United States for nine days in June for a medical check-up amid swirling rumors about his ill health.
Women were seen wailing at the 37 Military Hospital, while crowds of high-ranking government and military officials looked perplexed, shocked and confused.
Mills' unexpected death came only five months before he was due to stand for re-election in December. In line with Ghana's constitution, Vice President John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as head of state Tuesday evening, a few hours after the announcement of Mills' death.
In his first presidential address, Mahama expressed condolences to Mills' family and said the final tribute to the late president was to "maintain the unity, peace and stability of the nation." Mahama will serve as caretaker president until presidential and parliamentary elections at the end of the year.
Senior members of Ghana's ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) immediately pledged support for the new president.
Health Minister Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin told Xinhua that the NDC has put in place the structures to sustain governance till the upcoming elections, and power transition was smoothly achieved.
He also urged all Ghanaians to bury their differences in the moment of national grief to mourn the death of Mills, the first head of state who died in office.
Other political parties in Ghana expressed shock and condolences over Mills' sudden death, putting off election campaigns and party anniversary celebrations.
"We call on our fellow Ghanaians at home and abroad and friends of Ghana to join us and pray for his soul to rest in peace," Ghana's largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party, said in a statement late Tuesday.
"As a mark of respect, the party is suspending all its activities," it said.
General Secretary of the Convention People's Party Ivor Greenstreet described the event as a sad day for Ghana and the ruling NDC.
"It's a great loss to all of us," Greenstreet said on local radio. "We hope that this event will bring us together as one people."
Trained as a lawyer and a taxation expert, Mills has spent 25 years teaching at the University of Ghana before becoming vice president in 1997 under former President Jerry John Rawlings.
On Tuesday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan sent a message of condolences to the family of the late president and the government and people of Ghana, saying he received the news with shock and immense sadness.
Jonathan said Mills had done his best during his tenure to carry forward the process of democratic consolidation and socio-economic development in Ghana.
On the same day, U.S. President Barack Obama, who received Mills at the White House early this year, also sent his condolences.
"It was with great regret that I learned of the passing of President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana," Obama said.
"President Mills tirelessly worked to improve the lives of the Ghanaian people. He helped promote economic growth in Ghana in the midst of challenging global circumstances and strengthened Ghana's strong tradition of democracy," he said.
Also on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his condolences.
"President Mills will be remembered for his statesmanship and years of dedicated service to his country," Ban said.
The United Nations will work with the government and the people of Ghana to support their efforts to consolidate the country's democratic and development achievements, Ban said.
As leader of a country of about 25 million, Mills has earned respect at home and abroad for his economic policies and commitment to democracy and good governance.
The GDP growth rate of the resource-rich country hit 14.5 percent in 2011, making Ghana one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the fastest in Africa.(Xinhua)