Chief Mediator and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan addresses the media in Nairobi, on March 2, 2008. (THOMAS MUKOYA / POOL / AFP)
GENEVA - Kofi Annan, one of the world's most celebrated diplomats and a charismatic symbol of the United Nations who rose through its ranks to become the first black African secretary-general, has died. He was 80.
His foundation announced his death in a tweet on Saturday, saying that he died after a short unspecified illness.
Annan, of Ghanaian nationality, died in hospital in Bern, Switzerland, in the early hours of Saturday, two close associates of Annan said.
Annan spent virtually his entire career as an administrator in the United Nations. He served two terms as secretary-general from Jan. 1, 1997 to Dec. 31, 2006, capped nearly mid-way when he and the U.N. were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.
During his tenure, Annan presided over some of the worst failures and scandals at the world body, one of its most turbulent periods since its founding in 1945.
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