World leaders have paid tribute to former UN secretary-general and Nobel laureate Kofi Annan, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 80.
Current UN chief Antonio Guterres hailed him as “a guiding force for good,” according to the BBC. While former US President Barack Obama said Annan had always pursued “a better world”.
Guterres added: “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organisation into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”
Obama said on his facebook page that “Kofi Annan was a diplomat and humanitarian who embodied the mission of the United Nations like few others. His integrity, persistence, optimism, and sense of our common humanity always informed his outreach to the community of nations. Long after he had broken barriers, Kofi never stopped his pursuit of a better world, and made time to motivate and inspire the next generation of leaders. Michelle and I offer our condolences to his family and many loved ones.”
UK Prime Minister Theresa May also eulogised the fallen statesman saying: “Sad to hear of the death of Kofi Annan. A great leader and reformer of the UN, he made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into. My thoughts and condolences are with his family.”
UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a twitter post: “I am grief-stricken over the death of Kofi Annan. Kofi was the epitome of human decency and grace. In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, the world’s loss becomes even more painful. He was a friend to thousands and a leader of millions.” Zeid Raad Al Hussein (@raad_zeid) August 18, 2018
The Ghanaian served as UN chief from 1997 to 2006 and is the only black African ever to hold the post.
Since then he has served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a solution to the conflict.
Annan died in hospital in his adopted country of Switzerland city of Bern. He had been living near Geneva for several years.
He “passed away peacefully on Saturday after a short illness”, the Kofi Annan Foundation said.
He was a “deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world”, the statement added.
Kofi Annan first married Titi Alakija, a Nigerian woman, in 1965. Together they had a daughter, Ama, and a son, Kojo. Annan separated with Titi in the late seventies but he remained an involved parent and lived with his son Kojo for a while after his separation with the mother.
After several years of living apart from his first wife, in 1981, Annan fell in love with Nane Lagergren, a lawyer at the U.N.
Nane was divorced and has a young daughter, Nina, from her first marriage.