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    First Black African UN Secretary General Koffi Annan Dies At 80

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    Koffi Annan during his days as the UN-Secretary General

    Kofi Annan, the first black African to become UN secretary-general, has died aged 80 in Switzerland, his aides say. He “passed away peacefully on Saturday after a short illness”, the foundation named after him said on Saturday.

    Mr. Annan served two terms as UN chief from 1997 to 2006, and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for humanitarian work for his efforts. He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

    In a statement announcing his death, the Kofi Annan Foundation described him as a “global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world”. The diplomat, who was originally from Ghana, had been living in Geneva for several years before his death.

    Kofi Annan, Diplomat Who Redefined The U.N

    Kofi Annan, a soft-spoken and patrician diplomat from Ghana, who became the seventh secretary general of the United Nations, projecting himself and his organization as the world’s conscience and moral arbiter despite bloody debacles that left indelible stains on his record as a peacekeeper, died on Saturday. He was 80.

    His death, after a short illness, was confirmed by his family in a statement from the Kofi Annan Foundation, which is based in Switzerland.

    Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, he was the first black African to head the United Nations, and led the organization for two successive five-year terms beginning in 1997 — a decade of turmoil that challenged the sprawling body and redefined its place in a changing world.

    On his watch as what the Nobel committee called Africa’s foremost diplomat, Al Qaeda struck New York and Washington, the United States invaded Iraq, and Western policymakers turned their sights from the Cold War to globalization and the struggle with Islamic militancy

    An emblem as much of the body’s most ingrained flaws as of its grandest aspirations, Mr. Annan was the first secretary general to be chosen from the international civil servants who make up the United Nations’ bureaucracy.

    He was credited with revitalizing its institutions, crafting what he called a new “norm of humanitarian intervention,” particularly in places where there was no peace for traditional peacekeepers to keep, and, not least, in persuading Washington to unblock arrears withheld because of the profound misgivings about the body voiced by American conservatives.

    His tenure was rarely free of debate, and he was likened in stature to Dag Hammarskjold, the second secretary general, who died in a mysterious plane crash in Africa in 1961.

    In 1998, Mr. Annan traveled to Baghdad to negotiate directly with Saddam Hussein over the status of United Nations weapons inspections, winning a temporary respite in the long battle of wills with the West but raising questions about his decision to shake hands — and even smoke cigars — with the dictator.

    In fact, Mr. Annan called the 2003 invasion of Iraq illegal and suffered an acute personal loss when a trusted and close associate, the Brazilian official Sérgio Vieira de Mello, his representative in Baghdad, died in a suicide truck bombing in August 2003 that struck the United Nations office there, killing many civilians.

    The attack prompted complaints that Mr. Annan had not grasped the perils facing his subordinates after the ouster of Mr. Hussein. While his admirers praised his courtly, charismatic and measured approach, he was hamstrung by the inherent flaw of his position as what many people called a “secular pope” — a figure of moral authority bereft of the means other than persuasion to enforce the high standards he articulated.

    As secretary general, Mr. Annan, like all his predecessor and successors, commanded no divisions of troops or independent sources of income. Ultimately, his writ extended only as far as the usually squabbling powers making up the Security Council — the highest U.N. executive body — allowed it to run.

    In his time, those divisions deepened, reaching a nadir in the invasion of Iraq. Over his objections, the campaign went ahead on the American and British premise that it was meant to disarm the Iraqi regime of chemical weapons, which it did not have — or, at least, were never found.

    Iraq also brought embarrassment closer to home when reports began to surface in 2004 that Mr. Annan’s son, Kojo Annan, worked for Cotecna Inspection Services, a Geneva-based company that had won a lucrative contract in a vast humanitarian program supervised by the United Nations in Iraq and known as oil for food.

    A commission led by Paul A. Volcker concluded that the secretary general had not influenced the awarding of the contract, but had not investigated aggressively once questions were raised.

    The secretary general said he took the commission’s findings as exoneration, but his reputation suffered, particularly in the eyes of adversaries in Washington.

    In assessing his broader record, moreover, many critics singled out Mr. Annan’s personal role as head of the United Nations peacekeeping operations from 1993 to 1997 — a period that saw the killing of 18 American service personnel in Somalia in October 1993, the deaths of more than 800,000 Rwandans in the genocide of 1994, and the bloody massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica in 1995.

    In Rwanda and Bosnia, United Nations forces drawn from across the organization’s member states were outgunned and showed little resolve. In both cases, troops from Europe were quick to abandon their missions. And in both cases, Mr. Annan was accused of failing to safeguard those who looked to United Nations soldiers for protection.

    “Annan felt that the very countries that had turned their backs on the Rwandans and Bosnians were the ones making him their scapegoat,” Samantha Power, an author who later became ambassador at the United Nations during the Obama administration, wrote in 2008. “But he knew that his name would appear in the history books beside the two defining genocidal crimes of the second half of the 20th century.”

    Despite the serial setbacks, Mr. Annan commanded the world stage with ease in his impeccably tailored suits, goatee beard and slight, graceful physique — attributes that made him and his second wife, Nane Lagergren, a global power couple.

    He seemed to radiate an aura of probity and authority. “How do we explain Kofi Annan’s enduring moral prestige,” the Canadian author, politician and academic Michael Ignatieff wrote in a review of Mr. Annan’s 2012 memoir, “Interventions.”

    “Personal charisma is only part of the story,” Mr. Ignatieff wrote. “In addition to his charm, of which there is plenty, there is the authority that comes from experience. Few people have spent so much time around negotiating tables with thugs, warlords and dictators. He has made himself the world’s emissary to the dark side.”

    The desire to burnish his legacy seemed to motivate Mr. Annan long after Ban Ki-moon replaced him as secretary general, and he set up a nonprofit foundation to promote higher standards of global governance. In 2008, he headed a commission of eminent Africans that persuaded rival factions in Kenya to reconcile a year after more than 1,000 people were killed during and after disputed elections.

    In February 2012, Mr. Annan was appointed as the joint envoy of the Arab League and the United Nations to seek a settlement as civil war tightened its grip on Syria. But he resigned in frustration in August of that year, citing the intransigence of both sides in a conflict that convulsed and reshaped the region and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

    Kofi Atta Annan was born on April 8, 1938, in the city of Kumasi in what was then Gold Coast and which, in 1957, became Ghana, the first African state to achieve independence from British colonialism. Born into an aristocratic family, he had three sisters, two of them older. The third, Efua, was a twin who died in the 1990s.

    After a spell at the elite Mfantsipim boarding school founded by Methodists, he went on to higher education as an economist in Ghana, at Macalester College in St. Paul, in Geneva, and at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management.

    In 1965, he married Titi Alakija, a woman from a prosperous Nigerian family. The couple had two children, a daughter, Ama, and a son, Kojo. The marriage foundered in the late 1970s.

    In 1984, Mr. Annan married Ms. Lagergren, a divorced lawyer working at the United Nations. She, too, was a scion of a prominent family, a niece of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who protected thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II but disappeared after being captured by Soviet forces. Ms. Lagergren had a daughter, Nina, from her first marriage.

    He is survived by Ms. Lagergren, along with Ama, Kojo and Nina.

    Most of Mr. Annan’s working life was spent in the corridors and conference rooms of the United Nations, but, he told the author Philip Gourevitch in 2003, “I feel profoundly African, my roots are deeply African, and the things I was taught as a child are very important to me.”

    His first appointment with a United Nations agency was in 1962, at the World Health Organization in Geneva. Mr. Annan returned briefly to Ghana to promote tourism and worked in Ethiopia with the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa before returning to the body’s European headquarters.

    Later, in New York, he worked at first in senior human resources and budgetary positions, and, in the early 1990s, the former secretary general, Boutros Boutros Ghali of Egypt, appointed him first as deputy, then as head of peacekeeping operations.

    The appointment plunged Mr. Annan into a maelstrom of conflicts where United Nations forces were deployed. As genocide approached Rwanda in 1994 — months after the downing of a Black Hawk helicopter in Mogadishu, Somalia, and the killing of American service personnel — the Clinton administration in Washington had little appetite for intervention.

    But on the ground, the Canadian commander, Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, heading a modest force of 2,500 United Nations troops, sought permission from Mr. Annan’s office to raid an arms cache that he believed would be used in massacres. Permission was refused. Only years later, after the release of a critical report in 1999, did Mr. Annan declare that “all of us must bitterly regret that we did not do more to prevent it. On behalf of the United Nations, I acknowledge this failure and express my deep remorse.”

    In Bosnia, too, the United Nations was accused of being overcautious and restricted by the mandate approved by the Security Council for the establishment of so-called safe havens under United Nations protection that proved, in Srebrenica, to be illusory. European powers opposed airstrikes to halt the advancing Bosnian Serbs, who overran Srebrenica despite the presence of peacekeeping troops from the Netherlands.

    Later that year, Mr. Annan seemed to adopt a tougher line, approving the NATO bombing campaign that forced Serbia to the negotiating table for the Daytona peace accords. At that time, airstrikes required a so-called dual key approval of the NATO command and the United Nations.

    “When Kofi turned it,” Richard Holbrooke, the former American envoy, told Mr. Gourevitch, “he became secretary general in waiting.” With Washington pressing for the ouster of Mr. Boutros Ghali, Mr. Annan took office as secretary general with American approval on Jan. 1, 1997.

    He was, Ms. Power wrote, “the primary guardian of the U.N. rule book,” which insisted on the paramountcy of the Security Council as what Mr. Annan called “the sole source of legitimacy” in approving overseas interventions. Those rules were openly flouted by NATO in March 1999, with its bombing of the former Yugoslavia, forcing Mr. Annan to seek some kind of middle ground.

     

    Additional reporting from Ney York Times

     

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    AFRICA FOCUS

    Save Your Country From Musevenism; Bobi Wine Warns Kenyans Over Proposal To Remove Term Limits…

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    President Ruto with Fafi Constituency MP, Salah Yakub who proposed that term limits should be remover in Kenya. On the right is Bobi Wine

    National Unity Platform (NUP) president, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has warned Kenyans to save their country from Musevenism.

    Bobi Wine’s warning came after Kenyan Member of Parliament for Fafi Constituency, Salah Yakub suggested that the limit on two terms for president should be removed.

    “We want to tell all Kenyans that the limit on two terms (for president) should be relooked. We want it to be changed to an age limit where one gets to 75 years then he or she cannot contest,” he said.

    The legislator added that they will come up with an amendment Bill to try to change this because they want the requirement to be on age limit and not terms.

    “If a president is doing a good job, then he or she should not be limited by the terms.”

    Bobi Wine however advised Kenyans to be vigilant and save their country from Musevenism.

    “This may come off as a lone MP making a ridiculous suggestion, but this is how it starts. Exactly how Museveni began schemes to remove term and age limits. Defend your Constitution before it’s too weak to defend you.”

    NUP’s General Secretary, Lewis Rubongoya also expressed his fears noting that he hopes Kenyans are not falling into the same trap.

    He said, “To remove term limits, Gen. Museveni used James Kakooza. For term limits, he used Raphael Magyezi. First, they appeared as random MPs making proposals. Turned out the plots were birthed in State House. I hope our Kenyan brothers are not falling in the same trap. They won’t like it.

    “The objective of any dictator at this point would be to make something so immoral a subject of public debate. Even if most people make angry remarks about it, the dictator’s objective is fulfilled when it is discussed as he has capacity to pay some people to discuss in its favour.”

     

    By Kalamira Hope

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    AFRICA FOCUS

    Village Boy Swears In As President Of Kenya; President Ruto Delivers Emotional Speech After Inauguration…

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    President William Ruto has been sworn in as the 5th President of the Republic of Kenya today in an occasion that took place at Kasarani International Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya.

    “I, William Ruto, in full realization of the high calling I assume as President/Acting President/Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, do swear/solemnly affirm that i will obey, preserve, protect and defend this Constitution of Kenya as by law established, and all other laws of the Republic and that I will protect and uphold the sovereignty, integrity and dignity of the people of Kenya. So help me God.”

    PRESIDENT KAGUTA MUSEVENI CONGRATULATES RUTO

    After the inauguration, Museveni congratulated President Ruto and thanked Uhuru Kenyatta on behalf of the Presidents who attended the occasion.

    Museveni said, “All the political class in Africa, I appeal to you to answer the question, Where does prosperity come from?

    “According to my experience of 60 years, I would advise Africans to know that prosperity comes from wealth creation. Wealth is not the same as natural resources. Wealth means commercial agriculture, services, manufacturing, hotels, and ICT, etc.”

    Museveni divulged that in order for Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, and other countries to catch up with the United States, they need to work on the issue of regional markets.

    RUTO DELIVERS EMOTIONAL SPEECH

    In his speach after being sworn in as president, William Ruto said, “To the people of Kenya, this is a momentous occasion to our country, our politics and our elections have never failed to be a motive, engaging and dramatic.”

    Ruto further noted that this day comes on the back of a peaceful election, following an intense issue-based campaign in which major coalitions made up of strong political parties canvassed their agenda and took it for examination by the people of Kenya.

    “We have done well as a nation. We have come a long way in our nation’s journey to freedom, and going by our most recent performance in this election. We conclude in confidence that we are almost home,” he added.

    Ruto hailed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson, Wafula Chebukati for standing firm, resisting bribery, intimidation, blackmail and doing the right thing.

    “It is also important to celebrate our judiciary for sustaining its tradition of boldly giving much-needed guidance especially during allying post-election anxieties and resolving grievances in a sensitive, credible and authoritative manner.”

    He contended, “We have all, therefore, emerged out of this context stronger, more united and alive to the issues that are more common to all of us. We should remain conscious that we have all been elected to work together in ensuring that our children go to school, our people have food and decent health care and our young people have jobs and our workers have dignified livelihoods.

    “For we believe strongly that every hustle matters. Dreams and ambitions live in the hearts of Kenyans who struggle daily often with nothing except stubborn hope.”

    Ruto propounded that he stands with great humility and profound joy as a living testimony that with faith in God, willingness to work hard and commitment to a vision, dreams can become reality in the fullness of time.

    “I promise to throw open every door of opportunity and to keep every door open until success torries become the norm rather than the exceptional and urge all other leaders so that we can together expand the opportunity and chance for many of our citizens,” he maintained.

    RUTO TO SWEAR IN SIX JUDGES ON WEDNESDAY.

    Upon swearing in, Ruto immediately appointed six judges.

    “To further demonstrate my commitment to the independence of the judiciary, this afternoon I will appoint six judges already nominated for appointment to the court of appeal which was done three years ago by the judicial service commission,” he stated.

    Ruto added, “And tomorrow I shall preside over their swearing-in so that they can get on with the business of serving the people of Kenya.

    “As required by Article 245 of the Constitution, the Inspector General of Police is mandated to exercise independent command over the national police service.”

    Ruto also emphasized that his government commits to create a business-friendly environment, eradicate barriers that hamper business development and growth and make Kenya one of the most compelling and attractive business destinations.

    “We are an open democratic society founded on freedom and justice, we take pride in receiving visitors and offering them our legendary hospitality. Kenya is a land of immense natural beauty and unforgettable delight.”

    He concluded, “Ladies and Gentlemen I stand here on my day to make a commitment, I will make pronouncements that are going to better define the trajectory of my administration. I promise to make every Kenyan proud and to ensure the economic well-being of us.”

     

    By Kalamira Hope

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    AFRICA FOCUS

    KENYA ELECTION: Supreme Court Puts Final Nail In Odinga’s Political Coffin; Ruto Tells Kenyatta Who Betrayed Him “You Will Be Treated Well”, Vows To End Politics Of Deceit, Betrayal And Conmanship…

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    L-R: President-elect William Ruto, Chief Justice Martha Koome and Raila Odinga

    Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld William Ruto’s presidential win in a scathing judgement that blasted opposition leader Raila Odinga’s accusations of cheating.

    In the presidential election that took place on 15th August, 2022, Ruto garnered 7,176,141 votes making 50.49% while Raila Odinga garnered 6,942,930 votes making 48.85%.

    Odinga challenged William Ruto’s win in the Supreme Court and alleged the tally had involved “criminality”.

    In his petition, Odinga asked the court to nullify the vote’s outcome on several grounds, including a mismatch between the turnout figures and the result, and alleges the election commission failed to tally ballots from 27 constituencies, rendering the result unverifiable and unaccountable.

    “We have enough evidence to prove all of the criminality that occurred. We are confident that in the end, the truth will be revealed,” Odinga said.

    In a televised judgement, Chief Justice Martha Koome, who heads the seven-member court, dismissed all the eight petitions challenging the elections.

    “The court found some of these petitions were based on forged documents and “sensational information”, Chief Justice Martha Koome said in a unanimous decision on behalf of the seven judges.

    “No credible evidence that the electronic voting transmission system had been tampered with by a supposed “middle man” was presented,” she said.

    Koome even raised the possibility of perjury, noting that two people who filed affidavits allegedly on behalf of polling stations agents had not spoken to the agents.

    “Swearing to falsehoods is a criminal offence,” she said.

    Ms. Koome also said that Mr Ruto had met the constitutional threshold of garnering 50%+1 of votes cast.

    “IEBC carried out the verification, tallying, and declaration of results in accordance with the provided constitutional law.”

    “This court upholds the election of the first respondent (William Ruto) as the president-elect,” Koome ruled.

    Kenya’s 5th President William Ruto will be sworn in on September 13th, 2022.

    WE RESPECT OPINION OF COURT BUT DISAGREE WITH RULING – ODINGA

    Meanwhile, Odinga has disagreed with the Supreme court ruling.

    “We have always stood for the rule of law and the constitution. In this regard, we respect the opinion of the court although we vehemently disagree with their decision today,” Odinga’s statement reads.

    He adds, “Our lawyers proffered irrefutable evidence and the facts were on our side, unfortunately the judges saw it otherwise. We find it incredible that the judges found against us on all nine grounds and occasion resulted to unduly exaggerated language to refute our claims.

    “This judgement is by no means the end of our movement, in fact it inspires us to redouble our efforts to transform this country into a prosperous democracy where each and every Kenyan can find their full belonging.

    “We thank our supporters and Kenyans across the country for standing with us. We will be communicating in the near future on our plans to continue our struggle for transparency, accountability and democracy,” Odinga adds.

    This is Odinga’s fifth attempt at the presidency; he blamed several previous losses on rigging. Those disputes triggered violence that claimed more than 100 lives in 2017 and more than 1,200 lives in 2007.

    THIS MARKS THE END OF POLITICS OF DECEIT, BETRAYAL AND CONMANSHIP – RUTO

    Reacting to the Supreme Court ruling, Kenya’s new President-elect Williams Ruto, accompanied by his wife  Mama Rachel Ruto and his running mate, and future deputy president Rigathi Gachagua with wife laid out his vision of a democratic Kenya.

    Ruto said he welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold his election victory with “tremendous humility” and praised the judges for their “neutrality” and “patriotism”.

    Even though it is well known that President Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto – who was his deputy – fell out several years ago, which saw Mr. Kenyatta backing his opponent Mr. Raila Odinga, Ruto said he will put a call to him.

    “I will shortly be putting a call to my good friend President Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said to laughter from all those watching on.

    “I haven’t talked to him [Kenyatta] in months…I know he worked hard in his own way… I take no offence that he decided to choose and support somebody else and therefore we will remain friends.”

    Mr. Ruto also said that Mr. Kenyatta will be treated well.

    “We will respect our president in his retirement… we are honourable people, we are not petty and we are not jealous. He has done a good job and he will have his place in the history of Kenya. Nobody should harbour anything against the president of Kenya.”

    Ruto promised to stamp out division in Kenya and forge a path of unity saying democracy should not be an “acrimonious enterprise”.

    He extended a hand of friendship to his political opponents, saying those who voted for his competitors all want what is best for Kenya and that he is committed to delivering that.

    “We are not enemies, we are Kenyans. Let us unite to make Kenya a nation of which everyone shall be proud to call home.”

    “This marks the end of the politics of deceit, betrayal and conmanship,” he said.

    “We want the politics of the Kenya of the future – every leader must be judged on what they say and what they say is what they do.”

     

    By Hope Kalamira

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