Annan feels

Published March 31, 2005
UNITED NATIONS, March 30: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed ?great relief? that the inquiry committee looking into UN oil-for-food programme had exonerated him of any wrongdoing in the award of a contract to a firm that employed his son. But he added that he was ?deeply saddened? his son, Kojo, had not fully cooperated with the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) into the allegations surrounding the now defunct multibillion dollar programme, and he urged him to do so.

At a press conference held just hours after receiving the report from IIC, Mr Annan asserted that he had no intention of resigning as he had lots of work still to do. ?Hell no,? he replied amid laughter to a question on the subject, referring to his agenda of reform for the world body.

?I was well aware that among the most serious allegations was an insinuation that I myself might have improperly influenced the procurement process in favour of Cotecna Inspection Services, because that company employed my son,? he said .

?But I knew that to be untrue and I was therefore absolutely confident that a thorough inquiry would clear me of any wrongdoing. The Committee has now done so after an exhaustive 12-month investigation.

?After so many distressing and untrue allegations have been made against me, this exoneration by the independent inquiry obviously comes as a great relief,? he added.

SUPPORT AT THE UN: Most diplomats at the UN expressed sense of relief that the committee had exonerated Mr Annan, saying the world body had many challenges on its agenda.

In a statement White House and the US State Department expressed cautious support for the UN chief but the Europeans were expected to rally around him. Security Council permanent-member China said it was time for the issue to be brought to a close.

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