UPDATE 2-Ghana swears in opposition leader Mills as president

Wed Jan 7, 2009 4:44pm GMT

(Adds Mills quotes)

By Kwasi Kpodo

ACCRA Jan 7 (Reuters) - Ghana swore in opposition leader John Atta Mills as president on Wednesday in a democratic transfer of power that won plaudits from around the world for one of Africa's most attractive investment destinations.

President John Kufuor stepped down after serving the maximum two four-year terms in office in the West African state. His party's chosen successor lost a cliffhanger presidential election run-off to Mills last week by less than 0.5 percent.

Many thousands of people packed Independence Square by the Atlantic seafront in Accra for the ceremony. It was on the same scale as the huge gathering that greeted then-U.S. President Bill Clinton when he visited Ghana more than 10 years ago.

"This is the dawn of a new era for change, for a better Ghana," said Mills, a pro-business centre-left politician.

Dressed in a wrap of local kente cloth woven in Ghana's national colours of red, green and yellow, Mills was sworn in by the country's chief justice.

He then raised aloft the symbolic State Sword, representing government authority, to cheers from the crowd, and a military unit fired off a booming 21-gun salute.

Several African leaders including President Umaru Yar'Adua of regional heavyweight Nigeria were present.   Continued...

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