John Evans Fifii Atta Mills was a Ghanaian politician who was President of Ghana from 2009 until his death in 2012. He was inaugurated on 7 January 2009, having defeated the ruling party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in the 2008 election. He was Vice-President from 1997 to 2001 under President Jerry Rawlings, and stood unsuccessfully in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections as the candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). He died on 24 July 2012 at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra. He is the first Ghanaian head of state to die in office.
Mr. Atta Mills presided over Ghana’s continuing and, for the region, unusual experiment in stable democracy. He was elected with a margin of less than 1 percent at the end of 2008.
That the narrowness of the victory did not set off an explosion of violence, as had occurred after elections in Ivory Coast and Kenya, was widely viewed as evidence of the maturity of democracy in Ghana, which in 1957 became the first African nation to declare independence. Mr. Atta Mills was planning to seek re-election in December.
“His historical significance is in the consolidation of democracy in Ghana,” said Rod Alence, a Ghana expert at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. “To have someone like Mills, who was never known as being charismatic, was crucial in setting up Ghana in a two-party system.”
1944 — 2012
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