Panafrican News Agency

Funeral of Ghana's late president enters second day

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - The three-day state funeral for Ghana’s late President John Evans Atta Mills entered its second day Thursday, with the continuing public viewing of the body that is lying in state at the Banquet Hall of the State House in the nation's capital, Accra.

Hundreds of people, led by President John Dramani Mahama, viewed the body on Wednesday.

They included the widow, Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, the Speaker of Parliament and Parliamentarians, Ministers of state, former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor, former Vice President Aliu Mahama, the clergy, party officials and chiefs.

There were still hundreds more in the queue by 1900 GMT when the first day of public viewing of the body ended.

A night vigil was kept at the State House, at which there was music, dirges, traditional and cultural displays until midnight. Another vigil will be held on Thursday evening.

President Mills, 68, died on 24 July in Accra.

Meanwhile, finishing touches are being put to the Independence Square which will be the venue of the funeral service.

More than 20,000 people are expected to be at the Square, according to the funeral planning committee.

The burial grounds, located between the Castle Drive and marine Drive, near the Independence Square, are being put into shape.

Dignitaries from across the world have begun arriving to participate in the burial on Friday.

Among those who have so far arrived are Mr. Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the UN to West Africa; Mr. Kassa Tekleberihan, Speaker of the House of Federation in Ethiopia; Mr. Gilbert Pasquet, Special Envoy to the President of Haiti and Mr. Malefetsane Mohahafa, a Special Representative of the Kingdom of Lesotho.

A delegation of Ivorian traditional authority also arrived this afternoon.

The funeral planning committee said 15 Heads of State and Government have confirmed their participation in the funeral.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and four Special envoys from the US as well as the President of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, would also be attending.

The leaders expected to attend the ceremony include President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, President Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin, who is also the Chairman of African Union; President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire and chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); President Theodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and President Macky Sall of Senegal.
-0- PANA MA/SEG 9Aug2012