Ghana: Thousands Attend Ghanaian Statesman Atta Mills Funeral
Accra---Hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians and dignitaries from various parts of the continent were in the capital, Accra, to attend the funeral of President John Atta Mills who suddenly died to illness in late July.
Over 18 African heads of state and visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along other dignitaries are among those who attended the Friday burial which was held on the grounds of Osu Castle, the presidential residence.
Thousands of thousands of mourners dressed in red and black queued for hours on Thursday, many of them wailing with grief, to pay their last tribute to Mills whose body lay in state for a second day. President Atta Mills, 68, becomes the first Ghanaian statesman to die in office, following a long battle with throat cancer, which saw his presidency marked by persistent rumours of his death and his severe illness that made him skip speaking in public.
His death comes after a planned re-election for a second four-year term in the December presidential elections. He is succeeded by his former Vice-President John Dramani Mahama who was sworn in as president hours after his death.
Hillary Clinton, who arrived in the capital from Nigeria on Thursday, is on the last stop of her 11-day seven nation tour of Africa, and she is expected to hold talks with now acting President Mahama.
Referred famously by his supporters as “Prof” revering to his long academic career, President Atta Mills, held a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies and had attended the prestigious London School of Economics after graduating in law earlier from the University of Ghana in 1967.
Mr Atta Mills had staged two unsuccessful earlier bids for presidency under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party, but in 2008 he trounced Nana Akufo-Addo of bitter rival New Patriotic Party (NPP) to become president.
In his earlier political career Mills had served as vice-president between 1997 and January 2001to former military ruler Jerry Rawlings, but greatly distanced himself with Rawlings.
He described himself as a social democrat who leaned broadly on leadership fashion of independence founding leader Kwame Nkrumah's idea of social welfare.
Egyptian Troops continue to Mass in Sinai as Clashes endure
Clashes in Egypt’s restive north-eastern border region of Sinai continues reported after Egyptian police battled with gun men in the region’s main town of al-Arish on Thursday, state television reported.
The clashes come a day after Egyptian security forces began an operation in the Sinai Peninsula, bordering with Gaza Strip and Israel, to root out Islamist militants who have been responsible for series of insurgent attacks in the area.
A report by Nile News television citing its correspondent in Sinai said ““Clashes resumed between armed men and police forces in front of police station number two in al-Arish.” No further details of the incident were provided, nor did it give identity of the gunmen.
Meanwhile Bedouin tribal leaders in Sinai have agreed to help restore security in the area following a late Thursday night meeting with Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal al-Din at al-Arish, 50km west of the Gaza border.
Mr Gamal al-Din told reporters that “with the help of the people of Sinai, the mission will succeed.”
Sheikh Atef Zayed, a member of Al-Rishad tribe told Reuters news agency that all tribes present had pledged to support the military operation, while another tribal leader, Eid Abu Marzuka, said the tribes had also reached a consensus to destroy smuggling tunnels into Gaza Strip.
"Let Hamas be upset, we don't care," said Marzuka, of the Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip, adding that Israel’s contact with Palestinians in Gaza should be through the official Rafah border crossing.
The lawless border area of Sinai supplies hundreds of illegal tunnels into Gaza strip, used to smuggle basic goods and illegal weapons and immigrants past Israel’s blockades of the enclave.
The latest wave of violence in Sinai began last Sunday when gunmen attacked an Egyptian border post killing 16 guards in the sweep, and are believed to have escaped into Gaza Strip through the smuggling tunnels.
Further attacks on checkpoints in al-Arish on Wednesday, prompted an incursion by Egyptian forces hours later, carrying out missile strikes from helicopters. According to military officials, 20 people were killed in the village of Touma, while the Sheikh Zuwaid area to the west was also hit.
Egyptian army is reported to be reinforcing security operations in Sinai, deployed extra troops, tanks and armoured vehicles to al-Arish on Thursday. Egypt’s military presence in Sinai is limited and requires Israeli approval, under the terms of the 1979 peace treaty that saw the peninsula returned to Egypt.