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  Kofi Annan 'depressed,' said close to quitting
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Last EditedNone Entered  Mar 27, 2005 09:22am
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News DateSunday, March 27, 2005 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionThe U.N. report on the scandal-ridden oil-for-food program is slated for release on Tuesday, and insiders at the world body indicate that a beleaguered – and reportedly depressed – Kofi Annan could satisfy those seeking his resignation by voluntarily stepping down as Secretary-General of the U.N.

Just last week it was revealed that, despite earlier denials, the U.N. was paying the legal fees of disgraced oil-for-food head Benon Sevan – and using the escrow account of the oil-for-food program to do it.

That scandal followed revelations that Annan's son, Koji, had received between $300,000 and $400,000 from the firm, Cotecna, after he had left it's employ and before the company received a lucrative $60 million contract with the oil-for-food program. Supporters of Annan have sought to blame his son for not revealing his continuing relationship with the company to his father who claims to have been in the dark.

"Naturally I was very disappointed and surprised," Annan told the London Telegraph, while acknowledging a problem of "perception of conflict of interest."

But, now, new information implicates Secretary-General Annan in his own dealings with Cotecna. At three previously undisclosed meetings between 1997 and 1999, Annan met with executives of Cotecna – two of those meetings were before the oil-for-food contract was awarded and one was after.

"Why did Kofi not say before that he had met with Cotecna, especially if they really did have nothing to do with oil-for-food?" one congressional investigator asked the London Telegraph. "It just looks like another attempt to keep things hidden. These sins of omission keep adding up."

"The fact that the secretary-general has not previously been open about his own dealings with Cotecna raises very serious questions," echoed Nile Gardiner, an expert on the U.N. at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "At best, this is hugely embarrassing for him."
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