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World Leaders Bid Farewell To Ex-UN Chief Annan

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Ghanaians bid farewell to former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday in a state funeral attended by African leaders and international statesmen who hailed his record as an advocate for humanity and world peace.

Annan, a Ghanaian national and Nobel laureate, died on August 18 in a Swiss hospital at 80.

Born in Kamasi, Ghana, on April 8, 1938, Annan took the baton as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from Egyptian diplomat Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali in December 1996. He served for two consecutive five-year terms, from January 1997 to December 2006.

His body was flown to Accra on Monday for burial in his homeland, where he is seen as a national hero.

Around 6,000 mourners filled the auditorium for yesterday’s service – the climax of a multi-day funeral ceremony, which has seen his coffin, draped in the Ghanaian national colours, displayed for public viewing.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was among the dignitaries in attendance. They include former Ghanaian presidents, the leaders of Ivory Coast, Liberia, Namibia and Niger and the Crown Prince of Norway.

In an address, Guterres hailed Annan, who served between 1997 and 2006 as the seventh UN Secretary-General, as an exceptional global leader with a deep faith in the role of the UN as a force for good.

Guterres said: “As we face the headwinds of our troubled and turbulent times, let us always be inspired by the legacy of Kofi Annan. Our world needs it now more than ever.”

The ceremony was projected onto big screens outside the auditorium for the crowds of mourners that could not find space inside the hall.

Many commuters in the capital wore black as a sign of respect.

On Wednesday, Annan’s family and Ghanaian dignitaries were among hundreds to file past his casket amid traditional rites by local chiefs and clan leaders.

Annan, a Ghanaian of Ashanti lineage, was granted a royal title by the Ashanti king in 2002.

The elders said the rites, including presenting him with clothing and water, were necessary to clear the path for a peaceful “travel” for their royal.

Some mourners, like New York-based community mayor Delois Blakely, had flown long distances to pay their respects.

Blakely, who served as an Ambassador of Goodwill to Africa at the UN, told Reuters: “I had known and worked with Kofi for close to 10 years. He spent his life trying hard to fix our broken society.”

As former UN chief, the late Annan was linked to peace efforts to reunite the divided island of Cyprus, submitting a reunification blueprint which was rejected in a referendum by Greek Cypriots in 2004.

He staunchly opposed the United States (U.S.)-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and later served as the first UN envoy at the start of Syria’s war, but quit after world powers failed to fulfill their commitments, saying: “I lost my troops on the way to Damascus.”

The United States (UN) paid final respects to the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the late Ghanaian diplomat was laid to rest yesterday in Ghana.

The UN General Assembly will tomorrow hold a commemorative meeting to pay tribute to the former Secretary-General.

Statements, a minute of silence and traditional African cultural performance, are expected to be made in honour of the former UN scribe.

In his tribute, Guterres said: “Kofi Annan was both one-of-a-kind and one of us. He was an exceptional global leader.

“He was also someone virtually anyone in the world could see themselves in: those on the far reaching of poverty or by, conflict and despair who found in him an ally; the junior UN staffers following in his footsteps; the young person to whom he said until his dying breath ‘always remember, you are never too young to lead – and we are never too old to learn.

“Like few in our time, Kofi Annan would bring people together, put them at ease, and unite them towards a common goal for our common humanity.

“There is an old joke: The art of diplomacy is to say nothing … especially when you are speaking! Kofi Annan could say everything, sometimes without uttering a word.
World Leaders Bid Farewell To Ex-UN Chief Annan - General Discussion

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