27.03.2005 General News

Depressed Annan close to quitting?

By Times Online
Depressed Annan close to quitting?
LISTEN MAR 27, 2005

(UK Times Online) -- KOFI ANNAN, the United Nations secretary-general, is said to be struggling with depression and considering his future. Colleagues have reported concerns about Annan ahead of an official report this week that will examine his son Kojo's connection to the controversial Iraqi oil for food scheme.
Depending on the findings of the report, by a team led by the former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, Annan may have to choose between the secretary-generalship and loyalty to his son.
American congressional critics of the UN are already pressing him to resign over the mismanagement of the oil for food programme, and even his supporters have been dismayed by the scandals on his watch, including the sexual abuse of children by UN peacekeepers in Congo.
One close observer at the UN said Annan's moods were like a “sine curve” and that he appeared near the bottom of the trough.
Kojo, 29, was employed by a Swiss company, Cotecna, but left before it won one of the contracts under the oil for food programme. Last week it emerged he received up to $400,000 from the company. The UN confirmed that Kofi Annan three times met executives of the firm, twice before the award of the oil for food contract and once afterwards.
Mark Malloch Brown, Annan's British chief-of-staff, said the meetings were brief and had nothing to do with Cotecna's contract. If some of the allegations against Kojo were confirmed, that would create “a very different situation, but for Kojo — not the secretary-general”.
Kojo and Cotecna insist he had no part in securing the oil for food contract and that his work related to activities in Nigeria and Ghana.
New scandals continue to erupt, however. One revelation last week was that the UN had agreed to pay legal fees for Benon Sevan, the disgraced head of the oil for food programme, out of the funds raised from the Iraqi oil sales.
“Kofi Annan is going to find his position increasingly untenable,” said Nile Gardiner, an expert on the UN at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “There is a strong possibility he will resign voluntarily because of his declining credibility.”
In the end Annan's feelings may be more decisive than the facts.

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