ABOVE PHOTO: Kofi Annan, Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria, emerges from the Action Group on Syria meeting in the Palace of Nations, Saturday, June 30, 2012, at the United Nations’ Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Annan announced last week that he would be stepping down as Special Envoy for Syria.
(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, Pool)
By John Heilprin
GENEVA — Kofi Annan said Thursday he will step down from his high-profile role as special envoy for Syria at the end of the month, delivering blistering criticism of world powers’ failure to unite over the country’s escalating violence.
At an impromptu press conference, Annan said he accepted the role when it seemed the international community led by the U.N. Security Council could help end the violence, enforce a cease-fire and bring about a political transition.
But the former U.N. secretary-general told reporters he cannot go on when the 15-nation council provides no backing for his role, particularly because of the standoff between its five veto-wielding members: Russia and China on one side, the United States, Britain and France on the other.
He was appointed special envoy in February of last year.
“When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger pointing and name calling in the Security Council,” he told reporters. “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,” he added.
Annan said the failed six-point plan commonly referred to as the Annan plan is, in fact, the Security Council’s plan.
He did not rule out the idea of a successor being appointed by the current U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, since “the world is full of crazy people like me, so don’t be surprised if someone else decides to take it on.”
Ban said in a statement he accepted the resignation with deep regret, and is discussing possible successors with the Arab League.
Russia’s U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin said that Moscow regrets the decision to step down, according to the RIA Novosti. But Churkin also said he was encouraged by Ban’s search for a replacement.
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