A solemn ceremony was organised at the Asomdwee Park in Accra yesterday to mark the first anniversary of the death of President John Evans Atta Mills.
Many Ghanaians witnessed the wreath-laying ceremony, which was attended by President John Dramani Mahama, Dr Mrs Ernestina Naadu Mills, Vice-President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur and his wife, Mrs Matilda Amissah-Arthur, and former President Jerry John Rawlings.
In attendance were other dignitaries, including Members of Parliament (MPs), Ministers of State, members of the Diplomatic Corps, the clergy, security chiefs, party supporters and a section of the public.
The programme was designed to coincide with the exact time of the demise of the late President last year. Thus exactly at 2:15 p.m., the time President Mills died a year ago, the siren was sounded in his memory.
Every activity was frozen when the siren was sounded for a minute after which two minutes’ silence was observed in memory of the late President.
Then President Mahama laid a wreath on behalf of the government and people of Ghana against the backdrop of the singing of solemn hymns by the Joint Castle and Parliament Choir.
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Dr Mrs Naadu Mills, widow of President Mills, followed with a wreath in memory of her husband, while Dr Cadman Mills laid a wreath on behalf of the bereaved family.
Others who laid wreaths were the Speaker of Parliament, on behalf of the Legislature; Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, on behalf of the Judiciary; and the Chief of the Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Mathew Quarshie, on behalf of the security services.
The Osu Mantse, Nii Ocquaye Kinka Dowuona VI, also laid a wreath as the landlord of the Asomdwee Park.
As early as 11 a.m. people started thronging the park, which is behind the Black Star Square on the Castle Road.
Clad mainly in black apparel or specially made cloths used during the death of the former President, men, women, the youth and aged found their way to the park to observe the ceremony.
The Asomdwee Park was neatly painted and made lawny and had canopies and chairs to accommodate the numerous guests who were admitted only on accreditation to the park.
The park was filled with specially invited guests, while people without accreditation came in their numbers but stood outside the park to observe the ceremony.
After the official ceremony, which lasted for about an hour, the public was allowed to pay their last respects.
People took the opportunity to take pictures of the neatly decorated tomb, while others brought in flowers to lay on the tomb.
The nation received the news of Prof. Mills’s death last year with shock. Three days before his death, President Mills had celebrated his 68th birthday, showing no visible sign of ill health.
An official statement from the Presidency on that fateful day said, "It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sudden and untimely death of the President of the Republic of Ghana."
According to the statement, he died a few hours after being taken ill, but no further details were given.
Similar wreath-laying ceremonies were held in many parts of the country to mark the first anniversary of the death of the President.
By Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho