11 August 2012

ECOWAS Leaders in Regional Solidarity At Late President John Atta-Mills' Funeral

press release

Accra - Ghana — The remains of Ghana's late President John Evans Atta-Mills were laid to rest near the Osu Castle (seat of Government) on Friday 10th August 2012, after a State funeral ceremony attended by 18 Heads of State including 10 from the ECOWAS region and delegations from more than 50 countries across the world.

Among the leaders that attended the more than four-hour pre-burial ceremony at the Independence Square were the chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, President Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin Republic, the current chair of the African Union, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, and his Liberian counterpart, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Also acknowledged at the ceremony were the presidents of Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Equatorial Guinea, and the President of the ECOWAS Commission Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, two of predecessors in office Ambassador James Victor Gheho and Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, as well as former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan and former Ghanaian Presidents John Kufour and John Jerry Rawlings.

Among dignitaries from outside the region were the president of Namibia and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who is on an African tour. In a tribute, the chief mourner and successor President John Dramani Mahama, described the late President Atta-Mills as "a great man who served his country, the African continent with honour, and an embodiment of humility, honesty and peace." In honouring the memory of the departed African Statesman, President Mahama urged his compatriots to draw lessons from the late President's passion for peace and strong faith in God.

In a handwritten and signed tribute, his widow, Mrs. Ernestian Atta-Mills, said "Fiifi, you were a blessing to me, Ghana, Africa and the world. Thank you. Rest peacefully, in the Lord." In a moving homily, the presiding Bishop, Methodist Church of Ghana, Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante, preached on the futility of life without God and urged the gathering to emulate the late President Atta-Mills who in his life time exhibited "peaceful demeanour and stood for he principle of love." "The tragedy of life," the cleric said, "consists in that fact that life is short, transient and delicate and life without God is mere existence, empty, hopeless and hollow."

The burial on Friday, which as declared work free by the government, capped three days of funeral rites during which the body of the late President was laid in-State where millions of Ghanaians and visitors lined the streets in long queues to catch a final glimpse of the African leader widely acknowledged as a man of peace. Sympathizers and mourners also had the opportunity to sign the official condolence register opened during the three days of national mourning.

Speaking to journalists in Accra, President Ouedraogo who led a high-level delegation of the ECOWAS Commission and other Community Institutions to the funeral said the greatest tribute to the memory of the late President Atta- Mills, whom he described as a pillar of regional integration, is to immortalize his legacy as a man of great character who epitomized peace and unity.

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