Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan Picture: Photo/Matthias Schrader

Accra - Former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan died Saturday after a short illness at the age of 80, his foundation announced.

"It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness," the foundation said in a statement.

Annan died in Switzerland after decades as a career diplomat and had led the world body during one of its most tough times. His family said on Saturday he died peacefully and the world continued to pay tributes to the seventh UN chief.

Annan was appointed to the UN in 1996 and served two terms and he left in 2006. Annan was in the country exactly a month ago to commemorate the centenary celebrations of South Africa’s first democratically President Nelson Mandela.

He was part of the Council of Elders and at the time of his death he had continued to advocate for human rights. Other members of the council included former Finnish President Marti Arthissari and ex-Prime Minister of Ireland Mary Robinson.

When he was appointed to the UN in 1996 he had succeeded another African Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The Egyptian diplomat had served from 1992 until Annan took over from him in 1996.

Ghali was the first African to be appointed to head the UN. During his tenure Annan had opposed the invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2001. Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2001 for his work.

AFP and Political Bureau