Ghana’s President John Atta Mills dead at 68, few months before seeking 2nd term
John Atta Mills, who ran three times for president before being elected in the closest vote in the country’s history on a platform vowing to reform the West African country, died Tuesday, according to Information Minister Fritz Baffour. He was 68.
Chief of Staff John Henry Martey Newman also addressed the nation on state-run television stations GTV and TV3, saying that Atta Mills died Tuesday afternoon at the 37th Military Hospital in Accra. Newman gave no details about the cause of Atta Mills’ death.
Information Minister Baffour also declined to elaborate. “Yes, I can confirm (his death), but I can’t say more,” he told The Associated Press.
The president celebrated his 68th birthday Saturday. He was poised to seek re-election later this year.
Atta Mills traveled to the United States in March and met for a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. He also traveled to the U.S. in April as well, as rumors about his health began to circulate in Ghana.
Atta Mills was elected in a 2008 runoff vote and was to run for a second term in December. He campaigned on a platform of change, arguing that the western African country’s growth had not been felt in people’s wallets.
“People are complaining. They’re saying that their standard of living has deteriorated these past eight years,” he said. “So if Ghana is a model of growth, it’s not translating into something people can feel.”
Atta Mills even put up posters of himself standing next to a photoshopped cutout of Obama in an effort to emphasize that the Ghanaian stood for change.
The 2008 election was the third time that Atta Mills had run for president.
He spent much of his career teaching at the University of Ghana. He earned a doctorate from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies before becoming a Fulbright scholar at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.