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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenyan leaders mourn late Nobel Laureate
Kofi Annan as great statesman   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga joined other world leaders in mourning the passing away of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan early Saturday.

Kenyatta said he learned with deep sorrow that Nobel Laureate Kofi Annan had passed away in Switzerland.

“In this moment of sorrow, I condole with his family, relatives and friends. My thoughts and prayers go out to them as they come to terms with this sad news,” Kenyatta said in a statement.

Kofi Annan served as the seventh UN Secretary-General for two terms from 1997 to 2006. He was the first African diplomat to hold such a position.

“We pray that the Almighty God will grant his family, relatives and friends the strength and grace to bear the loss,” said Kenyatta.

The 80-year-old is renowned in Kenya for having brokered a peace deal between then President Mwai Kibaki and Opposition leader Raila Odinga at the height of the 2007/8 post-election violence that left many displaced and hundreds dead, threatening the very fabric of Kenya’s society.

In his message, Odinga who described the passing of Annan as terrible news, said his death is a major blow to the push for respect of human rights across the globe.

“In Kenya, we retain fond memories of Dr. Annan as the man who stepped in and saved the country from collapse following the 2007-2008 post-election violence. Much remains to be done of the plan he proposed for the country as a road map to lasting peace and stability and it is my hope that we could do it in his honor,” Odinga said.

He expressed deep gratitude and appreciation of Annan for his dedicated and tireless work in stabilizing the world and encouraging Africa to aspire to higher ideals of democracy, respect for human rights and sound governance as the path to sustainable peace and economic development.

According to Odinga, more than any other UN secretary general, Annan best understood and pushed the world to see the importance of human rights to peace, security, humanitarian affairs, economic and social development.

“The world will always remember and honor Dr. Annan for what became known as ‘the Annan Doctrine’ in which he made it clear that the need to respect sovereignty cannot be used as a shield by governments to brutalize their own citizens and that the international community has a right to intervene, when governments fail to protect the lives of their citizens,” he said.

“That will remain a pillar of hope for many people across the world for generations to come if it can be adhered to. May he rest in eternal peace,” Odinga added.

Global leaders mourned Annan as a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world.

Annan who was a son of Ghana and felt a special responsibility towards Africa was particularly committed to African development and deeply engaged in many initiatives, including his chairmanship of the Africa Progress Panel and his early leadership of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

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EARLIER REPORT:

Late Kofi Annan was former Secretary-General of the United Nations

GENEVA (Xinhua) -- Former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan passed away at the age of 80 at a Swiss hospital on Saturday.

While mourning him, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described Annan as “a guiding force for good”, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called the former UN chief “irreplaceable” and “humanity’s best example, epitome of human decency and grace”.

Kofi A. Annan, born in Kumasi, Ghana, on April 8 of 1938, was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, served from 1997 to 2006 and was the first to emerge from the ranks of United Nations staff.

He studied at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana , and completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1961.

In 1961-1962, he undertook graduate studies at the Institute of International Affairs in Geneva, and in 1972 earned a Master of Science degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.

Annan joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization in Geneva. He later served with the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, the UN Emergency Force in Ismailia, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, and in various senior posts in New York dealing with human resources, budget, finance and staff security.

Immediately before becoming Secretary-General, he was Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping.

As Secretary-General, one of Annan’s main priorities was a comprehensive program of reform aimed at revitalizing the United Nations and making the international system more effective.

He was a constant advocate for human rights, the rule of law, the Millennium Development Goals and Africa, and sought to bring the Organization closer to the global public by forging ties with civil society, the private sector and other partners.

At Annan’s initiative, UN peacekeeping was strengthened in ways that enabled the United Nations to cope with a rapid rise in the number of operations and personnel.

It was also at Annan’s urging that, in 2005, Member States established two new intergovernmental bodies: the Peace-building Commission and the Human Rights Council.

Annan likewise played a central role in the creation of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the adoption of the UN’s first-ever counter-terrorism strategy, and the acceptance by Member States of the “responsibility to protect” people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

His “Global Compact” initiative, launched in 1999, has become the world’s largest effort to promote corporate social responsibility.

Annan undertook wide-ranging diplomatic initiatives. In 1998, he helped to ease the transition to civilian rule in Nigeria. Also that year, he visited Iraq in an effort to resolve an impasse between that country and the Security Council over compliance with resolutions involving weapons inspections and other matters—an effort that helped to avoid an outbreak of hostilities, which was imminent at that time.

He was responsible for certifying Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, and in 2006, his efforts contributed to securing a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah.

Also in 2006, he mediated a settlement of the dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria over the Bakassi peninsula through implementation of the judgement of the International Court of Justice.

His efforts to strengthen the Organization’s management, coherence and accountability involved major investments in training and technology, the introduction of a new whistleblower policy and financial disclosure requirements, and steps aimed at improving coordination at the country level.

In 2007, Annan established the Kofi Annan Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organization that works to promote better global governance and strengthen the capacities of people and countries to achieve a fairer, more peaceful world.

Following the outbreak of violence during the 2007 Presidential elections in Kenya, the African Union established a Panel of Eminent African Personalities to assist in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. As the head of the panel, Annan managed to convince the two principal parties to the conflict to participate in the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Process.

He also once served as the UN-Arab League joint special envoy to Syria and developed a six-point plan for peace.

Annan was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize for Peace, jointly with the UN. He has also received numerous honorary degrees and many other national and international prizes, medals and honors.

He is fluent in English, French and several African languages. He and his wife have three children.

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