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Kofi Annan resigns as UN-Arab League envoy for Syria


Kofi Annan
United Nations, Aug 2: United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has resigned from his post as international envoy for Syria after trying in vain for six months to broker peace and bring the country's warring parties to the table.

Annan's resignation was announced by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who expressed "deep regret" on Annan's decision to step down as the international envoy. "Annan has informed me, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil El Araby, of his intention not to renew his mandate when it expires on Aug 31, 2012," Ban said in a statement here.

Ban said he is consulting with El-Araby to appoint a successor to Annan who can "carry on this crucial peacemaking effort". Ban expressed his deepest gratitude to Annan for the "determined and courageous efforts" he made as the Syrian joint special envoy. Annan "deserves our profound admiration for the selfless way in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments".

Annan's resignation comes six months after he was appointed by the UN to engage with President Bashar Al-Assad's government and the rebel forces to bring an end to the violence in Syria which has so far left nearly 10,000 people dead and thousands more displaced.

Blaming the Syrian government and opposition forces, Ban said they continue to demonstrate their determination to rely on ever-increasing violence. He also expressed his dissatisfaction with the UN Security Council that has remained sharply divided over the measures that should be taken against Assad's regime.

"In addition, the persistent divisions within the Security Council have themselves become an obstacle to diplomacy, making the work of any mediator vastly more difficult," the UN chief said. Annan assumed his post in Feb and had proposed a six point peace plan that called for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.

The former UN chief had also met Assad to press him to end the crackdown on civilians and to restore peace in his country.

During his tenure, he had also met with leaders like Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov focusing on what measures need to be taken to end the violence and the killing in Syria and how to proceed with a political transition there.

The UN Chief expressed concern at the escalating violence in Syria saying "more bloodshed is not the answer; each day of it will only make the solution more difficult while bringing deeper suffering to the country and greater peril to the region".

"Tragically, the spiral of violence in Syria is continuing. The hand extended to turn away from violence in favour of dialogue and diplomacy - as spelled out in the Six-Point Plan - has not been not taken, even though it still remains the best hope for the people of Syria," he said.

Ban said Annan worked within the mandate provided to him by the General Assembly and with the cooperation of various member states adding that he is indebted to Annan and his team for their efforts to restore peace in Syria.

"I will continue to draw on his wisdom and counsel, and on the work of the Office of the Joint Special Envoy," Ban said.

The UN Chief reiterated the commitment of the world body to pursue through diplomacy and bring an end to the violence and put in place a Syrian-led solution that meets the legitimate democratic aspirations of its people.

"This can only succeed - indeed any peacemaking effort can only prosper - when the parties to the violence make a firm commitment to dialogue, and when the international community is strongly united in support," he said.


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