Egypt today said farewell to former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in Cairo, with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi,leading a massive military funeral procession.
Boutros-Ghali died on Tuesday in a hospital in Giza at the age of 94, and he refused to travel abroad for treatment, saying “I would like to die here in Egypt,” according to official MENA news agency.
The military funeral was also attended by senior Egyptian officials including Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Defense Minister Sedqi Sobhi, Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Islamic institution Ahmed al-Tayyib and head of Egypt’s Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II.
Born in 1922, Boutros-Ghali led the world body from Jan. 1, 1992 for a five-year term that ended late 1996 to be the first diplomat in Africa and the Arab world to hold such a world post.
Boutros-Ghali’s death has been mourned by current UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Pope Francis of Vatican, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby as well as some world and Arab leaders.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova was also one of the prominent attendees of the military funeral, the most important diplomat in Egypt’s modern history.
Following the military funeral, Boutros-Ghali’s body was taken to St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo where a funeral mass was held for the late prominent diplomat.
Boutros-Ghali was one of the top Egyptian diplomats who attended Camp David summit in 1978 and engineered the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel reached a year later.
At the time he was appointed by the UN General Assembly as the UN chief in late 1991, Boutros-Ghali was Egypt’s Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs.
After coming back to Egypt, Boutros-Ghali headed the state National Council for Human Rights under former long-time President Hosni Mubarak. He resigned later in 2011, the year Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising.
His students, now renowned diplomats, say that Boutros-Ghali was behind Egypt’s moving East in its foreign policies at a time the country greatly focused on its ties with the West in general and the United States in particular.
The man was also known as a peace promoter and a human rights advocate.
He left a legacy of over 100 publications and articles on regional and international affairs, legal and diplomatic affairs and political science that entitled him to be a prominent scholar and widely published author.