WINDHOEK - President Hage Geingob left the country yesterday for Accra, Ghana to attend the state funeral of the revered former United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, who will be laid to rest today.
The Ghanaian government officially received the remains of Annan on Monday, who died on August 18 in Bern, Switzerland, aged 80.
Annan’s body left Geneva aboard a private plane with his coffin draped in the flag of the UN body he served for decades.
Some members of the Annan family, including his wife, arrived with the coffin.
The former global diplomat is due to be given a full state burial that will span three days. Between his arrival and burial at a military cemetery on September 13, a number of events have been planned to celebrate his life.
In a statement Press Secretary Dr Alfredo Hengari said Geingob will attend Annan’s funeral whose remains will be interred today in Accra.
Geingob stated that “the loss of Kofi Annan, an exemplary son of Ghana, leaves a huge void for the African continent, and humanity at large, which he served as a courageous humanitarian with immeasurable passion and distinction. Without doubt, Africa has lost a man of integrity and a hero of our continent who worked throughout his entire life persistently for a better humanity.”
Hengari added that Geingob praised the exceptional work ethic and perseverance that allowed Annan to transform the United Nations.
Geingob is expected to return to Namibia today after the state funeral.
The plane bearing the coffin arrived at Kotoka International Airport at 16: 00 GMT and was received by Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo at a brief military ceremony.
The UN flag was taken off the coffin and replaced with the Ghana flag upon arrival.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner was the first black African UN secretary general and served between 1997 and 2006.
He is also credited for mediation during the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya, that led to the formation of the Grand Coalition government with former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Odinga Raila.
The mediation also led to the Waki Commission of Inquiry, which recommended the trial of the “Ocampo Six” at the International Criminal Court.
All six, among them President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, were discharged.
Kibaki and then opposition leader Raila were under pressure to reach an urgent solution following post-election clashes in which more than 1,000 people lost their lives and up to 600,000 were left homeless in 2007/2008.
Raila had accused Kibaki of stealing the election, while the former president said the opposition instigated the ethnic violence that led to the senseless killings.
Annan is also known for his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and to Iran’s nuclear program. He told the BBC in September 2004 that the Iraq war did not conform to the UN charter and was illegal.