UN to announce name of new Afghan envoy soon
U.N. Secretary-General will soon announce the name of his new special envoy to Afghanistan, Ban's spokesman said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will soon announce the name of his new special envoy to Afghanistan, Ban's spokesman said on Monday, and diplomats said it would likely be a Swedish diplomat.
"You can expect an announcement very soon," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.
Last week, Western diplomats and U.N. officials said Staffan de Mistura, a senior official at the World Food Program and former U.N. special envoy to Iraq, had been offered the job but turned it down for family reasons.
But diplomats said Ban spoke again with de Mistura over the weekend and the Swede told the secretary-general he had changed his mind and would accept the offer.
"De Mistura is back as the main candidate and has said he will take the job," a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The diplomats said it was not clear what had brought about de Mistura's change of heart.
This is not the first time that filling the U.N. Afghan post has generated confusion and controversy. In early 2008, British politician Paddy Ashdown announced he had been chosen for the post, which was to be reconfigured to give him much more authority than previous U.N. envoys had enjoyed.
But before Ban could confirm him in the post, Afghan President Hamid Karzai vetoed Ashdown, possibly fearing he would be usurping some of Karzai's own authority, U.N. diplomats said at the time.
Instead of Ashdown, Ban appointed Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, who was later accused by his former deputy, U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith, of playing down the extent of the fraud in Afghanistan's August 2009 presidential election. Eide denied the allegations and Ban fired Galbraith.
Eide is due to leave the job in March.
The new envoy is expected to play an important role supporting U.S. President Barack Obama's new policy in Afghanistan, which includes more U.S. and NATO troops to fight the Taliban insurgency and a "civilian surge".
Ban hopes to publicly announce his decision regarding Eide's replacement at the time of an international conference on Afghanistan in London this week, officials and diplomats said.
Reuters Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2010, 00:41