POSTED: 6:45 a.m. HST, Aug 2, 2012
GENEVA >> Kofi Annan said today 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.
Annan has served as the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria since February. He came up with a six-point peace plan to resolve the crisis in the Arab state, including a cease-fire that was supposed to take effect in mid-April.
But, despite the presence of hundreds of U.N. observers on the ground, the cease-fire never took hold and the violence in Syria has spread into a civil war.
Rights activists say that more than 19,000 people have died since the popular uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began in March 2011.
“When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger pointing and name calling in the Security Council,” Annan told reporters in Geneva. “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.