Ex-UN boss Kofi Annan dies

Former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mr Kofi Annan died in a hospital in Bern, Switzerland, yesterday.

He was 80.

The Kofi Annan Foundation announced his death in a statement yesterday.

“It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate passed away peacefully on Saturday, 18th August, after a short illness.

“His wife, Nane, and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during his last days,” read the statement.

It added: “Kofi Annan was global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world.

“During his distinguished career and leadership of the United nations, he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law.

“After stepping down from the United Nations, he continued to work tirelessly in the cause of peace through his chairmanship of the Kofi Annan Foundation and as chair of The Elders, the group founded by Nelson Mandela. He was an inspiration to young and old alike.”

Mr Annan, a Ghanaian diplomat, was the seventh secretary-general of the UN (1997-2006).

He and the UN shared the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to reform the world body and give priority to human rights issues. As head of UN peacekeeping operations, Mr Annan was criticised for failing to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.

As UN boss, he was linked to peace efforts to reunite the divided island of Cyprus, submitting a reunification blueprint which was, however, rejected in a referendum by Greek Cypriots in 2004.

In a statement, The Elders noted Annan’s recent visit to Zimbabwe.

“A founding member of The Elders, Kofi Annan succeeded Archbishop Desmond Tutu as chair in May 2013,” said The Elders in a statement.

“He played a vital role in leading The Elders’ work, and was a voice of great authority and wisdom in public and private, most recently on visits to South Africa and Zimbabwe in July 2018.

“As the seventh secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006, he was a constant advocate for human rights, development and the rule of law.

“The first secretary-general to reach the post from within an organisation he served for over 40 years, Kofi Annan had a life-long commitment to the cause of peace and was known for his staunch opposition to military aggression, notably the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“The great respect for him and his essential work was illustrated when he, together with the United Nations as a whole, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.”

Last month, Mr Annan was in Zimbabwe leading a team of The Elders on a two-day visit to assess the country’s pre-election environment.

During the visit, Mr Annan counselled peace and dialogue, calling on politicians not to incite violence.

“Politics is a tricky business, there are demands and there are demands,” he said at the time. “What is important is that we all play by the rules and we make reasonable demands, if we make demands which are unreasonable and which cannot be fulfilled we are complicating the process. “So, I would urge everyone to be reasonable and operate within the rules, question where there is need for questions and if they feel aggrieved use the legal mechanisms to get redress.

“But we should be careful of what we say and what we demand, because the main thing is not to incite. If you incite the population you never know what happens and this is the last thing that the nation and the people of Zimbabwe need,” he said. – Reuters/The Sunday Mail

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