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Top American at UN leaves as Annan departure nears

Written by: Staff

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 26 (Reuters) The UN bureaucracy's most senior American and a key driver of the world body's management reform efforts announced his resignation today as a new secretary-general prepares to take over.

Christopher Burnham, the UN undersecretary-general for management, is set to leave November 15 for a job in the private sector, six weeks before South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon is to succeed Kofi Annan as the new UN leader.

''Chris has been a driving force in the management reform efforts over the past 18 months,'' Annan said, citing his help in creating a new ethics office, job protections for UN whistle-blowers, stronger financial rules and accounting standards and procurement reforms.

US officials have complained, however, that the reforms fell far short of their expectations.

Many of Annan's plans ran into stiff resistance from developing nations, who feared the biggest UN dues payers, such as the United States, which pays for about a quarter of the UN budget, hoped to use the reform process to chip away at their influence within the 192-nation body.

US Ambassador John Bolton had pushed hard for more extensive reforms and made no secret of his disappointment.

Burnham was management chief at the US State Department in Washington before his May 2005 UN appointment.

He made waves within weeks by saying in a newspaper interview that he had been sent by the White House ''to make the UN more effective'' and that his primary loyalty was to the United States.

Reuters PB DB2358

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