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John Atta Mills


John Atta Mills

Professor John Atta MillsJohn Atta Mills was narrowly elected president of Ghana in 2008. He died unexpectedly at the age of 68 in July 2012.

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The government gave no details of the cause, but Mr. Mills had recently spent eight days in the United States for medical treatment.

He did not disclose what treatment he was seeking, but told his fellow citizens on his return that he was strong enough to run the country. But on July 24, he was rushed to the military hospital, where he died.

A former tax lawyer and longtime political figure, Mr. Atta Mills was Ghana’s third president since its return to multiparty democracy in the 1990s.

He was due to run again in elections in December. In 2009, President Obama chose Ghana for his first African visit — testimony to the solidity of the country’s democracy — and in 2011, Ghana began exporting oil for the first time, sending out 23.5 billion barrels that year.

Mr. Atta Mills first campaigned for the presidency in 2000, handpicked by his mentor, Jerry John Rawlings, the nation’s former military ruler turned civilian president. Mr. Rawlings seized power in a coup in 1979 but later became a democratically elected leader.

In that campaign, Mr. Atta Mills, Mr. Rawlings’ former vice president, could not overcome the onslaught of the New Patriotic Party and its leader, John Kufuor, who ran a slick, Western-style campaign that asked Ghanaians if they were truly better off after so many years under Mr. Rawlings and the National Democratic Congress he created.

The answer was a resounding no. Mr. Kufuor won 57 percent of the vote in a runoff with Mr. Atta Mills, and Ghana celebrated its first democratic transfer of power from one party to another.

In December 2008, Mr. Atta Mills defeated the candidate of the New Patriotic Party by a narrow margin; he took office the next month.




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