Does the UN Secretary—General lash out at brutal dictator Saddam Hussein? Or the ongoing genocide in Dafur? How about the UN's own peacekeepers in Africa who have bought child prostitutes with food?
No. He reserves his wrath for a free press which dares to question him over his son's use of his name to import a Mercedes—Benz duty free in Ghana, his native country. But then again, what else would expect from an unaccountable bureaucrat heading a scandal—ridden organization? Benny Avni of the New York Sun reports:
After advising his yet—unnamed successor to grow "thick skin," Secretary—General Annan yesterday appeared to have thinned his own, lashing out at reporters who asked about United Nations and Annan family scandals. Telling the press they needed to reflect on their own work, Mr. Annan refused to allow a London Times correspondent, James Bone, to ask a question, accusing him of being "an embarrassment" to his profession. [....]
Mr. Annan yesterday said the greatest misgiving he had in his tenure as secretary—general was that he wished the United Nations had "done everything that we could have done to avoid the war in Iraq" and its effects on Turtle Bay.
The comment did not sit well with Iraqi officials. "If the United States and its allies had not removed Saddam Hussein, he would still be torturing us" rather than standing accused on trial, Iraq's deputy U.N. ambassador, Feisal Amin al—Istrabadi, said when told by The New York Sun of Mr. Annan's words. [....]
When asked by The New York Sun about the perception among U.N. staffers that there is double standard in firing two high officials while refusing to even address other, more serious, accusations against other officials, Mr. Annan said parts of the question were "libelous." Speaking specifically about one man, former chief of staff Iqbal Riza, who has shredded reams of documents related to oil for food, Mr. Annan denied that his situation was comparable to that of President Nixon's last days in office.
"This is not something similar to the eight minutes in the Nixon White House," he said.
CNN's Richard Roth asked a recurring question about the whereabouts of a Mercedes—Benz that was bought in Mr. Annan's name by the secretary general's son, Kojo. The son's childhood friend, Michael Wilson, who is an executive at the Swiss—based Cotecna company, which employed the two, and the secretary—general himself contributed to the car's purchase, and Mr. Annan has been unable to say where the car is now.
"You are all obsessed about the car," Mr. Annan said, but refused to add any information beyond: "Please direct your questions to his lawyers or to him."
"I am neither his spokesman nor his lawyer," he said, speaking of his son.
Later, Mr. Annan finally lost his cool when Mr. Bone began a question by following up on Mr. Roth's inquiry about the car.
"Hold on, listen, James Bone," Mr. Annan said. "You have been behaving like an overgrown schoolboy in this room for many, many months and years. You are an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession. Please stop misbehaving, and please let's move on to a more serious subject."
He then refused to allow the reporter to get to his question, which was left unasked. Mr. Bone later told the Sun that he wanted to ask a detailed question about inconsistencies in Mr. Annan's testimony before the Volcker commission.