Annan’s angst

THE United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan is an unhappy man today. He’s been fighting battles to save his reputation on many fronts. In the past few weeks, the secretary-general has regularly come under fire for his alleged protection of top UN staff involved in sexual harassment.

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Published: Mon 6 Dec 2004, 10:43 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:12 AM

Then there was the shocking report of sexual abuse and rape of refugees in DR Congo by the UN staff. But the biggest question mark over Annan’s integrity continues to be the Iraq oil scam. Earlier this week, he expressed his ‘disappointment’ with his son for keeping him in the dark.

Little wonder then the US, which hasn’t kept its exasperation with the UN chief a secret, has stepped up the pressure on Annan. Although Washington has not officially demanded Annan’s head yet, the call by Republican senator Norm Coleman, who is heading a congressional probe into Iraq oil scam, urging Annan to step down is a sign of things to come.

The best thing for Washington is to wait until January when the investigation into the Iraq scam will be completed. If the US, a founding member and host country of the UN which pays 22 percent of the world body’s day-to-day budget, joins the call for Annan’s exit, it will only complicate the situation. Any such move by the US is likely to lead to further alienation of the country and realignment across the Atlantic. It is better for all parties, therefore, to wait and watch — as president Bush would put it — until the probe is over. All those involved must ensure the world body comes unscathed out of this crisis.

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