Ghana begins funeral rites for MILLS


GHANA has begun three days of funeral rites for late President John Atta Mills, with his body to lie in state ahead of his burial to be attended by foreign dignitaries including Hillary Clinton.

The death of Mills on July 24, five months ahead of polls in which he was to seek re-election, threw the West African nation into mourning and upended the presidential campaign in a country that recently joined the ranks of the world’s significant oil producers.

An official cause of death has not been given, though there have been unconfirmed reports that he suffered from throat cancer.

A state funeral service and burial will be held tomorrow, with Mills’ body to lie in state at the parliamentary complex in the capital Accra beginning at 12:00 pm (1200 GMT) yesterday.

Ghana’s new President John Dramani Mahama, government officials and diplomats viewed the body yesterday, followed by the general public today, organisers said.

Some 16 heads of state in addition to other foreign dignitaries, including the U.S. secretary of state, are expected at the burial service, according to chairman of the funeral committee Kofi Totobi-Quakyi. Clinton is currently on an African tour.

Mills, the first Ghanaian president to die in office, is to be buried on the grounds of the seat of government at Osu Castle in Accra.

The capital has been filled with tributes to Mills, who was widely praised for his integrity, including billboards saying “we shall always remember you,” while residents could be seen wearing wear black and red bands and scarfs as symbols of their grief.

“The outpourings of emotions on the death of our president show that we Ghanaians are united in our collective sense of loss,” Totobi-Quakyie said.

Accra police commissioner Patrick Timbillah said heavy security would be in place for the funeral, with major roads cordoned off.


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