Just five months before finishing his first term in office, Ghana's President John Atta Mills died unexpectedly yesterday in a military hospital in Accra, reports the New York Times. Few official details were released about Mills' death, which occurred just two days after his 68th birthday, although reportedly he had been suffering from throat cancer, according to The Guardian of Nigeria. Mills had recently traveled to New York for eight days for what was described as a minor medical treatment. Mills, a former law professor, served as vice president from 1997 to 2000, losing the race for president in 2000, before winning the presidency in late 2008.
Ghana was the site of President Obama's first visit to sub-Saharan Africa after taking office, when he called the country a democratic and economic success story. Ghanaian vice president John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as the new president just hours after Mills' death. "This is the saddest day in our nation's history," said Mahama. "I'm personally devastated. I've lost a father, I've lost a friend, I've lost a mentor and a senior comrade."