ACCRA - Ghana will hold a state funeral service and burial for late president John Atta Mills on August 10 after his death last week following an illness, the government announced on Friday.
The funeral "will take place in Accra from Wednesday, August 8 to Friday, August 10", a statement said. "The funeral service and burial will be on Friday, August 10. Further details will be announced later." Mills died on Tuesday, five months ahead of presidential elections in which he was to seek re-election. No official cause was given, but he was said to have been suffering from throat cancer. His body was expected to lie in state ahead of the burial. John Dramani Mahama, who had been vice president, was sworn in to serve out the remainder of Mills' term, as dictated by the West African nation's constitution. Presidential elections are to be held in December in the country seen as a bastion of democracy in the often-turbulent region. Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday sent a message of condolence to Ghana and paid homage to a politician widely lauded for his integrity. "It was with sadness that I learned of the untimely death of president John Atta Mills,“ the pope said in a message to the new president, John Dramani Mahama, who was sworn in on Tuesday following the 68-year-old‘s death. "Recalling his years of public service and his dedication to democratic principles, I join you, his family, and all the people of Ghana in mourning his passing,“ he said in the letter, sent from his holiday home, Castel Gandolfo.
"Entrusting the late president‘s soul to the providence of Almighty God, I pray that Ghana will be blessed with peace and prosperity as you begin your service as president in these sad circumstances," he added. Mills‘ death came five months ahead of elections in the country seen as a bastion of democracy in West Africa. The cause of death was not provided, but there were unconfirmed reports in local media that he had suffered from throat cancer.