Former President Ahtisaari retires from public life following Alzheimer's diagnosis

Ahtisaari was the tenth President of Finland, serving from 1994 to 2000, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.

Nobel Laureate and former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

Former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari has withdrawn from all public engagements after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

The Office of the President of the Republic released a statement announcing Ahtisaari's retirement on Thursday.

"President Martti Ahtisaari is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and, due to advanced memory loss, is being cared for at home, and occasionally in a nursing home. The family has asked for their privacy to be respected," the statement reads.

The former president's withdrawal from public life was also reported by the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), an independent body that "works to prevent and resolve conflicts through dialogue and mediation". Ahtisaari founded the organisation after his presidency ended in 2000. He remained on the CMI board until 2017.

Ahtisaari was the tenth President of Finland, serving from 1994 to 2000, and the first to be elected via a two-stage, direct popular vote, as opposed to the previous electoral college system.

In 2008, he became the first Finn to receive the Nobel Peace Prize "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts" including in Iraq, Kosovo, Namibia and Indonesia.

Both Ahtisaari and his Eeva tested positive for Covid-19 in March 2020. He recovered from the virus about a month later.