People could not belief in the sad news
At exactly 5.15pm about two hours after the official announcement of the death of President John Evans Atta Mills, his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lowered at half mast the national flag and the flag of the NDC as a sign of respect of the departed party leader.
President Mills passed away at 2.15pm Tuesday at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra, just three days after his 68th birthday.
With the news of the death of President going public, scores of party supporters swarmed the National Headquarters to verify, confirm or get an insight into what had happened from their national leaders.
This is the first time a sitting Ghanaian President has died. It is also the second time this year that a sitting African President had died, the first one being Malawian President Bingu Wa Mutharika.
Those who heard the news for the first time could not control their emotions but burst out in tears, while others stood in awe and shock.
With the cloud of sorrow hanging around the party headquarters, many who thronged the place, stood askance, occasionally wiping their faces or shaking their heads.
Visibly shocked by the demise of the president, the party’s National Organiser who also doubles as the Political Adviser to the President, Mr Yaw Boateng Gyan, who was constantly wiping away a stream of tears, told graphic.com.gh, “please I can’t talk”.
Other national executives of the party drove away from the party headquarters declining interviews.
In a short tribute posted on his Facebook Wall, Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah, a leading member of the party who contested President Mills twice for the flag bearer race in 2002 and 2006 wrote “R.I.P John Atta Mills. May God bless your soul and welcome you into his house. May God bless the family you leave behind as well. You will be greatly missed by all.”
Grief-filled supporters could not resist the temptation of stating that the NDC would still form the next government and bring to fruition the visions and aspiration of the departed President.
“We’ll still vote for the NDC, no matter whoever comes,” a supporter said wiping his tear-filled face.
A doubting Kwesi Nyarko with his hands across his chest said he would not believe the news until he saw the lifeless body of the president since he had heard false alarm of President Mills’ death before.
In Parliament, political colours were cast away as both the majority and minority sides clad in black, with red bands around their neck, observed the swearing-in ceremony of Vice-President John Dramani Mahama as the new President of Ghana.
Minutes after President Mill's death was announced, phone lines were jammed as anxious Ghanaians tried to reach each other about the news. Most people were apparently calling to either inform or confirm from friends, the bad news.
At the national headquarters of the opposition New Patriotic Party, activities came to a stand-still as solemn-faced workers and leading members including Mr Gabby Otchere-Darko and Mr Abu Jinapor both Aides to the NPP flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo were hit by the news of the president’s demise.
Here too, the national flag and the flag of the NPP were flying at half mast in honour of President Mills.
At the 37 Military Hospital where the President died, the thick crowd that gathered ostensibly to catch a glimpse of the President’s body being wheeled to the morgue, had their hope dashed as there was a heavy security presence at the health facility.
While some radio and TV stations were running live commentaries about the death of the president, pockets of Ghanaians gathered at drinking bars discussing the news.