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UN Envoy To Afghanistan Won't Renew Contract


Kai Eide is stepping down as the top UN official in Afghanistan.
(RFE/RL) -- The UN special representative for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, will not extend his term after his two-year mission reaches its scheduled end in March 2010.

The Norwegian diplomat, who heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), today announced that he had asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to start looking for a successor.

In Kabul, UN Spokesperson Dan McNorton confirmed the announcement to RFE/RL, saying Eide had a two-year horizon when he started his job -- as had his predecessors.

"This is not a question of resignation," McNorton says. "Kai Eide is sticking to the timetable that he outlined when he took the job in March 2008. This confirms his intention not to renew his contract."

RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan says Eide’s decision does not come as a big surprise.

Eide’s tenure was marred by a spat in October with a former deputy, U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith, who accused him of concealing information about the extent of fraud in the contested Afghan presidential election in August where Hamid Karzai was reelected.

Eide denied the allegation and Galbraith was sacked. Ban quickly reaffirmed his "full support for Eide."

Eide told news agencies today that the controversy over the election was not linked to his decision not to renew his contract, telling The Associated Press that the row was between Galbraith and the rest of the international community.

The United States and other countries with troops in Afghanistan have urged Karzai -- who took office last month for another term -- to end corruption, which is seen as fueling a Taliban insurgency.

On December 9, Eide said the Afghan people needed to see "action now" on corruption.

Eide’s tenure has also been marred by charges of ineffectiveness in uniting the disparate civilian aid and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

Today’s announcement also comes amid reports of intense discussions between UN officials and Western diplomats about the role the United Nations should be playing in the reconstruction efforts.

On December 10, Reuters reported that the UN secretary-general and Western powers were seeking a new UN envoy to Afghanistan to help lead the "civilian surge" U.S. President Barack Obama has promised.

The agency quoted Western diplomats and UN officials as saying there are two leading candidates to replace Eide: Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura, Ban's former special envoy to Iraq; and Jean-Marie Guehenno of France, who ran the UN peacekeeping department from 2001 to 2008.

with agency reports