Ghana President Mills dies, VP takes over
By Kwasi Kpodo
ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana's President John Atta Mills, who won international praise for presiding over a stable model democracy in Africa, died suddenly on Tuesday and his vice-president was quickly sworn in to replace him at the helm of the oil, gold and cocoa producer.
Mills had celebrated his 68th birthday on Saturday and his unexpected death came months before he was due to stand for re-election in December as head of the world's No. 2 cocoa grower, which is also a major African gold producer.
"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. It added that Mills had died a few hours after being taken ill, but gave no further details.
A presidential aide, who asked not to be named, said the president had complained of pains on Monday evening and had died early on Tuesday afternoon when his condition worsened.
In line with Ghana's constitution, Vice-President John Dramani Mahama, who is 53, took the oath of office as head of state before a somber parliament hours after the announcement of Mills' death. Mahama will serve as caretaker president until the elections at the end of the year.
Analysts hailed this as a sign that the country's political institutions were solid and working smoothly.
"With Ghana's reputation for stability, having seen two peaceful transitions in government following elections in 2000 and 2008, the strength of Ghana's institutions are likely to see the country in good stead," said Razia Khan, head of Africa research at Standard Chartered.
"As such, market volatility related to near-term uncertainty is likely to be limited," she added. Continued...