Saturday, September 03, 2005

Volcker report on UNSCAM

Next Wednesday Volcker will release is much awaited report on UNSCAM, as the scandal of the Oil for Food program is known. Although it should be expected that it will be watered down and will only point fingers directly at a few scapegoats and not at the main culprit Kofi Annan, the LA Times (free reg.) informs us that it could be more than that:

Investigators confronted Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday with findings of their probe of the $64-billion Iraqi oil-for-food program, concluding that he bore primary responsibility for mismanagement and faulting him for not acting to halt suspected abuses by contractors and laxity by member states, said diplomats who spoke to Annan after the meeting.

The investigators, led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, are expected to issue a public report Wednesday about abuses in the relief program. A committee spokesman said it would be at least 700 pages and would also examine the responsibility of Security Council members who knowingly allowed Saddam Hussein to reap billions from smuggling and kickbacks.

A senior aide to Annan, who also asked to remain anonymous, said, "I very much hope that while it may be a damaging report, it will be a survivable report.

"But he doesn't think it is a resigning matter."

Unfortunately, mr Annan does not seem to have either the dignity or the graciousness to step down, apparently oblivious of the damage he has done and continues to do to the organization.

The timing of the report is tricky for the U.N. The report's release will come a week before Annan will ask world leaders at a U.N. summit to expand the powers of the secretary-general and support ambitious reforms he has proposed for the troubled organization.

Pass the word for Bolton!

Although U.N. officials hoped that the independent inquiry would clear doubts about Annan's alleged conflict of interest and mismanagement in the oil-for-food program, it is instead likely to raise questions about whether he retains the credibility needed to clean up the organization — or even to survive the last 16 months of his term as secretary-general.

We can only hope.

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