KOFI Annan, Fmr UN Secretary General, Dies

PRESIDENT of India Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others cutting across party affiliations have mourned the demise of Kofi Annan, soft-spoken and patrician diplomat from Ghana who headed the United Nations as its seventh secretary general during a crucial period in international politics. He died peacefully on Saturday in Bern, Switzerland. He was 80.His death in a hospital was confirmed by his family in a statement released by the Kofi Annan Foundation based in Switzerland. It said he died after a short illness but did not specify the cause. He was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.  Annan was the first black African to head the United Nations for two successive five-year terms beginning in 1997 when turmoil threatened the existence of world body headquartered in New York. The New York Time  recalls that he was heading the UNO when Al Qaeda struck New York and Washington, the United States invaded Iraq, and Western policymakers turned their sights from the Cold War to globalization and the struggle with Islamic militancy. Annan was the first secretary general to be chosen from among the international civil servants who make up the organization’s bureaucracy. Cold War ended but international peace continued to be disturbed. Ghana born Annan was UN  Secretary General, from 1997 to 2006, and was the first to rise from within the ranks of the United Nations staff. He had also been a member, since 2007, of The Elders, a humanitarian group of a dozen leaders and activists of worldwide stature formed by Nelson Mandela. In 2013, Annan became its chairman. The current UN secretary general, António Guterres, whom Annan appointed to lead its refugee agency, said: “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.”

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