Ghana mourns after death of president
Ghana was thrown into mourning yesterday after the sudden death of president John Atta Mills five months ahead of elections in the country seen as a bastion of democracy in west Africa.
Mills' death on Tuesday after falling ill led to vice president John Dramani Mahama being sworn in hours later to finish out his term, as dictated by the constitution in the country which recently became a large-scale oil producer.
The cause of death was not given, but the 68-year-old had recently traveled to the United States for what was officially a routine medical checkup and there were unconfirmed reports in local media that he had suffered from throat cancer.
His death raised a host of political questions to be resolved over the coming weeks, as Mills had been set to seek re-election in the December vote in Ghana, also a major producer of cocoa and gold.
There was widespread speculation that Mahama would now run, but the ruling party has been divided in recent months and it was not clear whether there would be a challenge for the nomination.
Political questions were however temporarily put aside yesterday, as calls for unity and tributes to Mills, a law professor turned politician widely lauded for his integrity, filled the airwaves and newspapers.
The main opposition New Patriotic Party suspended its presidential campaign while Mahama declared a week of mourning, with flags flown at half-mast.