Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan died at the age of 80 after a short illness. Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP

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

Tributes for Annan have poured in from friends, world leaders, former colleagues and political parties.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres described his predecessor as a man who personified the UN and its values. "Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good. It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations," said Guterres in a statement.

"Like so many, I was proud to call Kofi Annan a good friend and a mentor. I was deeply honoured by his trust in selecting me to serve as UN High Commissioner for Refugees under his leadership. He remained someone I could always turn to for counsel and wisdom, and I know that I was not alone.

"My heartfelt condolences to Nane Annan, their beloved family, and all who mourn the loss of this proud son of Africa who became a global champion for peace and all humanity," the UN head said.

The UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he was grief-stricken over Annan's death.

"Kofi was humanity's best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace. In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world's loss becomes even more painful," he said.

"He was a friend to thousands and a leader of millions."

President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his deep condolences at the death of Annan.

Speaking shortly before his departure from Windhoek where he attended the 38th ordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Ramaphosa said Annan’s death was a great shock and loss to the global community.

He paid tribute to Annan “as a great leader and diplomat extraordinaire”, who had advanced the African agenda within the UN and had “flown the flag for peace” around the world, the presidency said in a statement.

The ANC called Annan "an eminent and distinguished son of Africa and a great friend of the people of South Africa who played an immeasurable role in shaping the global agenda in favour of the people of the developing South." 

People took to social media to mourn his death and send condolences.


AFP and IOL