Top UN official 'to resign'

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The Independent Online
ONE OF Sweden's top officials in the United Nations is expected to resign in what heralds a big shake-up in the upper echelons under the idiosyncratic leadership of Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

Jan Eliasson, the good-humoured UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, was said by Sweden's biggest-selling newspaper yesterday to be resigning because he and Mr Boutros-Ghali 'do not get along'.

Mr Eliasson, in London on his way to chair a Somali peace conference in Addis Ababa, told the Independent he was 'still in discussions with the Secretary-General about the conditions of my future service.' He added: 'Like with all other under-secretaries, my contract runs out in February. We will take a joint decision between the two of us. I am proud of what we have achieved so far.'

One source said that 'had Jan been willing to remain under existing constraints, he could have. Boutros does have respect for him. But he doesn't have an easy life.'

Mr Eliasson set up the Department for Humanitarian Affairs himself two years ago, after proposing it as Sweden's ambassador to the UN. It was set up to co-ordinate all the UN's humanitarian agencies. 'But these agencies hold on to their own power with an iron fist,' said one source. 'It hasn't quite worked.' Furthermore, Mr Eliasson has to seek approval from Mr Boutros-Ghali's staff - far junior to himself - every time he wants to take a foreign trip. 'You have to be a bit malevolent to deal with these people,' said one source. 'And he is not that kind of trickster.'

Mr Eliasson is but one of many under-secretaries who will leave. Insiders say others likely to go in February are Marrack Goulding, in charge of peace-keeping, and James Jonah, responsible for Africa and the Middle East.

Mr Eliasson has had public differences with Mr Boutros-Ghali over the balance between the UN's humanitarian and military operations in Somalia - pointing out that for every dollar spent on the humanitarian efforts, 10 are spent on military protection.

Another problem has been that he has never been mandated to deal with Bosnia. That is the exclusive province of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, and Mr Boutros-Ghali has never changed the arrangement. One observer likened it to 'being the England football manager and responsible for everything but the matches'.

Mr Eliasson is expected to take up a new post with the Swedish Foreign Ministry next year, but to remain on call as a UN troubleshooter.

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