By Kwasi Kpodo

ACCRA (Reuters) - The wife of former United Nations chief Kofi Annan joined dignitaries on Wednesday to file past her husband's casket amid traditional funeral rites by local chiefs and clan leaders.

Annan, a Ghanaian national and Noble peace prize laureate, died in a Swiss hospital last month at the age of 80. He was surrounded in his last days by his second wife Nane and children Ama, Kojo and Nina.

Annan's body was flown to Accra on Monday, accompanied by his family, including Nane. His coffin, draped in Ghanaian national colours, has since laid in state for public viewing ahead of the burial on Thursday.

Wednesday's session was dominated by customary rites for Annan, a dignitary of Ashanti lineage who was granted a royal title by the Ashanti king in 2002. The elders said the rites were necessary to clear the path for a peaceful "travel" for their royal.

"Custom demands that we see him off with the necessary clothing and water for his journey to the other world," one of the chiefs from the Akwamu traditional area told Reuters.

Others who filed past Annan's body on Wednesday included senior Ghanaian politicians and foreign dignitaries including Africa Union and U.N. officials.

Several African leaders and UN Secretary-General António Guterres are expected at the funeral on Thursday, organisers say.

(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo, Editing by William Maclean)

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