Ghana's President Atta Mills unexpectedly dies at age 68

Ghana's President    John Atta-Mills. (AFP Photo / Issouf Sanogo)
Ghanaian President John Atta Mills has died at the age of 68, a statement from the president's office says. He has been serving as the west African nation’s president since 2009.

It is with a heavy heart…that we announce the sudden and untimely death of the president of the Republic of Ghana,” the statement reads, as quoted by Reuters.

The statement also said the president passed away at a military hospital in the country's capital Accra, within a few hours of being taken ill.

Chief of Staff John Henry Martey Newman addressed the nation in a televised broadcast, confirming news of the president’s death. State-run television channels GTV and TV3 broke into regular programing for the announcement.

Meanwhile, a presidential aide said Mills died on Tuesday afternoon after complaining of pains on Monday.

Vice President John Dramani Mahama, has been sworn in as the country’s new president at 18:15 GMT.

Mills celebrated his 68th birthday on Saturday.

Last month, Mills visited the United States for what he described as a “routine medical check-up.” He also met with US President Barack Obama. Prior to his trip, he dismissed rumors regarding the state of his health.

A Western-educated university professor specializing in taxation, Mills served as the country’s vice president from 1996 to 2000. He was the leftist National Democratic Congress nominee for the presidency on three occasions: in 2000, 2004 and 2008. 

In 2008, Mills won a closely contested election on a platform of change and greater economic equality. One of his campaign posters even featured a photoshopped image of Mills standing alongside Barack Obama.

As president, Mills oversaw the start of oil production in the country. He was planning to run for a second term in December.