President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Thursday paid a glowing tribute to the late former UN Secretary General, Busumuru Kofi Atta Annan, describing him in superlative terms.
He said the late Annan was “charming, cosmopolitan, consensus-builder, elegant, eloquent, gentle-mannered, modest, polyglot, proud African, peacemaker, quintessential diplomat”.
In an eulogy at an elaborate burial service for the global icon in Accra yesterday, the President said “these words are not enough to capture the fullness of the personality of Mr Annan, who was one of the iconic figures of modern times”.
He said as the first UN Secretary General from sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Annan, through his conduct and comportment in the global arena, brought fame and glory to the nation, and that the myriad of tributes from around the world attested to his peacemaking nature and commitment to defend the voiceless.
Recounting attempts by some individuals to unjustifiably fix the late Annan with the responsibility for the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica when he was the UN Head of Peace Operations, the President said Mr Annan never lost his moral compass.
“Kofi Annan’s epic but unavailing efforts to establish the supremacy of international law over the actions of even the world’s greatest power won him the admiration of all right-thinking persons. History has vindicated him,” President Akufo-Addo stated.
Reminiscing over his time as Ghana’s Foreign Minister, especially when Ghana occupied one of the non-permanent seats at the UN Security Council in August 2006, the President described how proud he was as Chairman of the UN Security Council meeting that took the decision to halt Israel’s incursion into Lebanon by voting Security Council Resolution 1701.
A good friend
For President Akufo-Addo, Mr Annan was an ardent believer in the capacity of the Ghanaian and the African to chart their own course of progress and prosperity and also found the visions of Ghana Beyond Aid and Africa Beyond Aid very appealing.
He described Mr Annan as his good friend for most of his adult life, saying he cherished the pieces of advice the late diplomat offered him after he had been elected President of Ghana in December 2016.
However, he said, he felt unlucky when Mr Annan approached him at the Jubilee House that he would be unable to serve another term as Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, as stipulated by the statutes of the university.
Tracing a brief history of the political leanings of Mr H. R. Annan, Kofi Annan’s father, President Akufo-Addo described H.R. Annan as a stalwart of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia political tradition who served as the Ashanti Regional Minister during the administration of Prime Minister K. A. Busia in the Second Republic.
“Although the late former UN Secretary General never openly acknowledged, in my presence, his attachment to the tradition, his advocacy for human rights, respect for the rule of law and the principle of democratic accountability was the very essence of that tradition,” he added.
He said the late Annan was a devout Christian and outstanding Ghanaian who served his country and the world with dignity and humility, saying humanity had suffered from his demise.
Paying a similar tribute, the current Secretary General of the UN, Mr António Guterres, said: “Kofi Annan was the United Nations (UN) and the UN was Kofi Annan.”
Describing the late Annan as his mentor and former predecessor, he said Mr Annan offered him an opportunity to play a leading role in the United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNCHR).
He said Mr Annan brought people together, put them at ease and united them towards a common goal, adding: “He was an exceptional global leader. Those on the far reaches of poverty, conflict and despair always found in him an ally.”
“Kofi Annan was courageous, speaking truth to power while subjecting himself to intense self-scrutiny,” Mr Guterres said, adding that the late diplomat had an enormous mystical sense of the UN as a force for good in a world of ills.
The UN Secretary General catalogued a number of Mr Annan’s achievements in his days as UN Secretary General and said he had revitalised the organisation, “all of which added up to a remarkable record of achievements”.
Aside from Mr Annan, he said, only a few personalities would be remembered as secretary generals of the world body and one who would be seen as the face of the UN.
Referring to the late Annan as his good friend, Mr Guterres said the late diplomat’s support for him as a person was unwavering and lauded the deceased for his role in defending the rights of people, as well as in the fight against HIV.
“When the UN refugee agency needed a new leadership, he blessed me with his trust and asked me to fill that role and then provided unwavering support to protect and shelter the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.
“Now that I occupy the office Kofi once held, I am continuously inspired by his integrity and dedication,” he said.
For the late Annan, Mr Guterres said, indifference was the world’s worst poison, saying that when Annan was the UN Secretary General, he never stopped backing the frontline of diplomacy to ensure peace and stability in the world.