World mourns Kofi Annan

The body laid in state

The body laid in state

Hundreds of mourners from all walks of life queued yesterday at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) to pay their last respects to the late former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Atta Annan.

 

Men, women, young people, diasporas of different races and colour and several others were all present to extend their final goodbyes to one of Africa’s greatest icons.

 

Clad in black and red attires, some wailed and chanted in Akan dirges while others stood silently and sobered in grief while awaiting their turn to file past the laid-in-state remains of the celebrated diplomat.

 

Wrapped in the Ghana flag, the casket containing the remains of the late diplomat, under lock and key, laid in state at the foyer of the AICC as family members, as tradition demands, sat on both sides of the coffin to receive mourners who had come to pay their last respect.

 

The vicinities of the Conference Centre were decorated with the Ghana and UN flags as three huge billboards with the portraits of the late Kofi Annan welcomed mourners.

 

There was heavy military and police personnel at the venue to ensure law and order with some operatives of the National Security and State Protocol Department on-hand at vantage points to direct proceedings and human traffic.

 

The stretch from the Ridge Roundabout to the Accra Sports Stadium Traffic Light was closed to traffic to allow free flow of people to and from the AICC.

 

The remains of Mr. Annan, 80, who died on August 18 at Berne, Switzerland, after a short illness, arrived in Accra on Monday at about 5:20pm.

 

It was accompanied by his widow, Nane-Marie Annan, children and some UN officials.

 

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and wife, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Vice President Dr. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia and other dignitaries of government and the Akwamu traditional area met them on arrival.

 

As part of the funeral arrangements, members of the public were expected to file past and pay their last respect to the former Nobel peace prize winner.

 

Ministers of state, Members of Parliament (MPs), members of the diplomatic corps and other dignitaries will from 9am today also file past the former Head of the UN.

 

He would be buried tomorrow September 13, at the Military Cemetery in Accra after  funeral rites which would be attended by several heads of states from Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Niger and Zimbabwe among others.

 

Mr. Annan, who was born in Kumasi in 1938, joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Office in Geneva and later served in various capacities at the UN headquarters.

 

He was appointed by the UN Chief in December 1996 by the Security Council and later confirmed by the General Assembly, becoming the first office holder to be elected from the UN staff itself.

 

The late Annan was re-elected for a second term in 2001 and was succeeded by South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon on January 01, 2007.

 

As Secretary-General, he worked to reform the UN bureaucracy, combat the deadly HIV spread, especially in Africa and launched the UN Global Compact.

 

After serving out his term, he formed the Kofi Annan Foundation in 2007 to work on international development.

 

He was also the Chairman of ‘The Elders’, an international organisation founded by Nelson Mandela.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI AND CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS

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