Kofi Annan blasts UN as he quits ‘impossible’ job as Syria peace envoy
Kofi Annan has quit as joint United Nations-Arab League special envoy to Syria, with a blistering attack on the failure of world powers to deal with the country’s escalating violence.
In a last-minute press conference in Geneva, he told reporters he could not continue in his role without the backing of the UN security council, saying his job had become “impossible”.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he accepted the resignation with “deep regret”, and the special envoy is set to step down on 31 August.
Mr Annan said yesterday that he had accepted the role when it seemed the international community, led by the UN Security Council, could help end the violence, enforce a ceasefire and bring about a political transition.
But he told reporters he could not go on when the 15-nation council provided no backing for his role, particularly because of the stand-off between its five veto-wielding members: Russia and China on one side, the United States, Britain and France on the other.
“When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council,” the former UN secretary-general said. “It is impossible for me or anyone to compel the Syrian government and also the opposition to take the steps to bring about the political process.”
“As an envoy, I can’t want peace more than the protagonists, more than Security Council or the international community, for that matter.”
Mr Annan said the failed six-point plan commonly referred to as the Annan plan was, in fact, the Security Council’s plan.
He did not rule out the idea of a successor being appointed, saying “the world is full of crazy people like me, so don’t be surprised if someone else decides to take it on”.
Prime Minister David Cameron called on the UN to “ramp up” pressure on the Assad regime in Syria, saying Mr Annan’s resignation showed the peace plan had not worked.
There was little sign of progress on the issue in Downing Street talks between Mr Cameron and Russian president Vladimir Putin, after which the two leaders said only that Moscow and London would continue dialogue.
Mr Cameron said: “The Annan plan – he has worked very hard at it, but it hasn’t worked, because we’ve got this appalling bloodshed, we’ve got this slaughter. I think what we need to do is actually ramp things up. We need to pass resolutions at the United Nations to put further pressure on Syria.
“I want to see them under so-called Chapter VII [of the UN Charter], so they have full legal backing of the UN – sanctions, travel bans, asset freezes, all the steps we can take to add to the pressure on the Syrians, and also a very clear warning to them that if they use chemical or biological weapons there will be the most severe consequences to them of all.”
He played down the prospect of international military intervention, adding: “Syria is not Libya. It’s a different situation. I don’t think military approaches are right in this case. But I think there’s a lot more pressure we can put on and there’s a lot we can do, for instance, to help the Syrian opposition with advice and support.”
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