Accra, Aug. 8, GNA - The mortal remains of the late President John Evans Atta Mills arrived at the State House on Wednesday morning for public viewing as the three-day State funeral got underway.
At 09:27 hours, the body in a casket draped in the national colours of red, gold and green with a black star in the middle of the gold, arrived preceded by about 20 mounted constabulary (military horse riders brandishing flags).
The body arrived at the State House after it was taken from the 37 Military Hospital mortuary at about 06:50 hours and driven to his private residence on the Spintex Road and then to the Castle where he had worked from January 7, 2009 until his sudden death on Tuesday, July 24, 2012.
At the Castle, Mr John Martey Newman, Chief of Staff accompanied by Mr Samuel Atta Mills, son of the deceased, Mr Cadman Mills, brother of the deceased and the staff witnessed the casket amid sobbing and wailing.
Mr Newman prayed after which a minute's silence was observed for the late President Mills.
Scores of people, including government functionaries, members of the Council of State, Ministers of State, clergy, senior military officers, security chiefs, traditional rulers and top members of the society, had gathered in front of the Banquet Hall of the State House waiting for the arrival of the body of the late President who is being accorded a State funeral.
The front of the State House is bedecked in mourning colours of black and red with two posters of the late president – one in black suit with white shirt and green tie and another in white political suit with the message “Peace I leave with my nation.”
The late President, who was called “Man of Peace,” had repeatedly indicated his commitment to peace and fairness before, during and after the forthcoming December 2012 elections.
As the funeral cortege approached the entrance of the Banquet Hall of the State House, the beat of 'fontonfrom' drums throbbed to alert mourners of the arrival of the body of the late President whose vision was to ensure a “Better Ghana”, in running an open, honest and transparent administration and who had emphasised his determination to use the resources of the State to better the lives of the people.
There was gloom and wailing as Ghana Air Force pallbearers removed the casket from the hearse bedecked with flowers and carried it gently up the stairs as the last post was sounded.
The body of the late President, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, will lie in state until Friday morning when it will be removed to the Independence Square for a funeral service before burial between the Castle Drive and Marine Drive, near the Independence Square.
President John Dramani Mahama will be the first to pay his last respects before the public viewing begins.
Scores of dignitaries from across the world are expected to attend the funeral. They include African Union Chairman Benin's President Yayi Boni, Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS) Chairman, Ivorian President Allasane Ouattara as well as the Presidents of Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Tanzania. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is also expected in Accra.
Mr Kwame Asamoah Tenkorang, Director of State Protocol, and the Director of Communications at the Office of the President, Mr Koku Anyidoho, led the pallbearers to the Banquet Hall.
Ahead of them were members of the clergy including Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle, Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, the Reverend Dr Amo Darko, a Member of the Council of State and the Reverend Dr Fred Deegbe, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana.
The clergy then offered prayers for the repose of the late President in the Banquet Hall.
The security led by Lieutenant Colonel Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, National Security Coordinator, had no holiday as they ensured that people without accrediataion had no access to the Hall.