There’s mounting confusion at the UN about who will replace Kofi Annan as the envoy to Syria. Everyone knows that it’s meant to be veteran UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi. But it’s widely rumored that Brahimi is holding up the announcement because he wants a clear vote of support from the Security Council, which is not so easy these days.
That’s all a bit sensitive. Ban Ki-moon gave a press conference in Timor-Leste today, and some impertinent journalist brought the issue up (as well as raising concerns about Timor’s future). Check out the subtle way that the UN transcript deals with the complex Brahimi issue:
Q: Are you confident the country will remain peaceful once the peacekeeepers [sic] leave? And the second question: Mr. [inaudible] …. is a strong candidate to replace Kofi Annan, are you going to announce officially here in East Timor?
SG: I didn’t clearly understand your first question, but for the second question: I am not in a position to inform on anything about the successor issue of Kofi Annan as Joint Special Envoy for Syria. I am in the process of actively searching for a successor and when I am ready I will certainly announce this as soon as possible.
Now we don’t know if the questioner said “Brahimi”. But it’s not a bad guess, and it wouldn’t be too hard to check. But maybe there’s another mediator in the frame: Mr. Inaudible, a master of quiet diplomacy?