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TRIBUTES from across the world have followed the death of former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan on Saturday.
Mr Annan, who was 80, “passed away peacefully after a short illness” in a hospital in the Swiss city of Bern, his foundation announced.
Current UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres described the Ghanaian as a “guiding force for good” and a “proud son of Africa who became a global champion for peace and all humanity.
“His legacy will remain a true inspiration for all us,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described Mr Annan as a “wonderful person and great politician” who devoted his life to serving the UN.
“I was lucky to personally interact with Kofi Annan. I have been in genuine awe of his wisdom and courage, of his ability to make informed decisions even in the most difficult, critical situations. His memory will remain in the hearts of the Russian people forever,” Mr Putin said.
Girls Not Brides campaigner Charlie Lola Rose said: “Very sad news about Kofi Annan. As one of the Elders he founded Girls Not Brides and was a passionate advocate for girls’ rights.
“A voice for human rights the world must never forget.”
Mr Annan served as head of the UN for two consecutive terms from January 1997 to December 2006.
He was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2001 for for his contribution to the effective reform of the UN and “facilitating lasting peace throughout the world.”
Mr Annan opposed the crippling sanctions on Iraq which caused the deaths of thousands of civilians, many of them children, in an act infamously described by then US secretary of state Madeleine Albright as “a price worth paying.”
However, he was powerless to stop the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US-British coalition in 2003, which took place without a UN mandate.
Despite warning the US and Britain the invasion would violate the UN charter, it wasn’t until a year and a half later that he branded the Iraq war illegal.
In an interview with the BBC World Service in September 2004 Mr Annan said: “I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal.”
Mr Annan’s wife Nane and three children were “by his side during his last days,” the Kofi Annan Foundation said.
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