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Boutros-Ghali laid to rest in Egypt

Published 18/02/2016

Laila Boutros-Ghali, left at the funeral for her husband Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Laila Boutros-Ghali, left at the funeral for her husband Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Egypt has laid to rest its veteran diplomat Boutros Boutros-Ghali, holding a funeral procession with top honours in the capital, Cairo.

The funeral was followed by a service at the nation's largest Coptic cathedral for the man who was the first UN chief from Africa.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led the procession, walking at the front of the cortege as a horse-drawn hearse carried Boutros-Ghali's flag-draped coffin. The head of Egypt's Coptic Church attended the service, along with senior dignitaries.

Eulogising Boutros-Ghali, the Coptic patriarch, Pope Tawadros II, said Egypt was bidding "farewell to this fine example in Egyptian life and in Egyptian history".

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby as well as his predecessor Amr Moussa and other Egyptian ministers and officials attended the service at the Coptic Cathedral in the Abbassia district in Cairo.

Boutros-Ghali, who died on Tuesday at the age of 93, helped negotiate Egypt's landmark peace deal with Israel but then clashed with the United States when he served a single term as UN secretary-general.

The scion of a prominent Egyptian Christian political family, he was the first UN chief from the African continent, stepping into the post in 1992 at a time of dramatic world changes, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and the beginning of a unipolar era dominated by the United States.

His five years at the world body's helm remain controversial. He worked to establish the UN's independence, particularly from the United States, at a time when the UN was increasingly called on to step into crises with peacekeeping forces, with limited resources.

Some blame him for misjudgments in the failures to prevent genocides in Africa and the Balkans and mismanagement of reform in the world body.

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