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On Syria, Kofi Quits, Leaving Envoy Post on August 31 as Saudi Draft "Disses" Him

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 2 -- "Kofi is a quitter." So said a prominent Non-Aligned Movement diplomat to Inner City Press, following the news that Kofi Annan would not renew his contract as Joint Envoy on Syria on August 31.

  Since Annan is both a negotiator and "player," as the NAM diplomat put it, some wondered if this might be a way to pressure for a stronger mandate -- "or at least to take out of the Saudi resolution the 'dissing' of Kofi's work."

  Back on July 31, a non-NAM diplomat told Inner City Press that the Saudi draft's Paragraph 20 is "disrespectful" to Annan, directing him to "focus his efforts." Paragraph 21, calling on countries to adopt sanctions like the Arab League, has since been removed. But the dig at Kofi remains.

 Inner City Press asked Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin about this paragraph. He said is was an attempt to "re-draft" Kofi Annan's mandate, and that Russia will vote against the resolution.  The Chinese delegation told Inner City Press, the Six Point Plan is still alive.

  But Kofi is, or will be, gone.

  When Annan took the post, he brought in a team of questionable ex-UN officials. Alan Doss, who left amid a nepotism scandal. Nicolas Michel, who violated the UN charter by taking money from Switzerland for his $12,000 a month Park Avenue apartment while ostensibly serving and being paid only by the UN.

Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi assured Inner City Press that these were just temporary, but never followed up with promised information on who was in Annan's "toolbox" of consultants. Nor would he or the Kofi Annan Foundation answer if the Foundation raised money off Annan's Syria work.

Still, Annan is not only articulate but more "balanced," in UN parlance, than pro-West Ban Ki-moon. He managed to navigate between Russia and China on one side, and the Western P3 on the other, at least for a time. Increasingly, there were Western grumbles about Kofi. And now he is leaving. Watch this site.

Footnote: this story was held to see if new President of the Security Council for August Gerard Araud of France would at least answer one question about Annan when he came to the stakeout.

  But no.

  As he did fifteen months ago, when he did only three Q&A stakeouts in the whole month (compared to elevent by Colombia's Nestor Osorio last month), Araud read a Congo press statement in French, then left when his spokesman read it out in English. He said he'll take questions -- on the Congo? -- at 12:30. We'll see: watch this site.

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