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Top U.N. official in Afghanistan to leave

The United Nations says Kai Eide's contract is expiring and that his exit is unrelated to a clash with his U.S. deputy over corruption in the Afghan government.

December 12, 2009|By Tony Perry
  • Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide is following through on his previous intention to leave when his two-year contract is finished, said U.N. spokesman Dan McNorton.
Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide is following through on his previous intention… (Dario Lopez-Mills / Associated…)

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — The top United Nations official in Afghanistan, under criticism that he was not being tough enough with President Hamid Karzai over corruption, will not seek reappointment when his contract expires in March, the U.N. said Friday.

Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide is following through on his previous intention to leave when his two-year contract is finished, U.N. spokesman Dan McNorton said.

"This is not a question of resigning," he said. "Kai Eide is sticking to the timetable."

McNorton said the decision was unrelated to the public clash between Eide and Peter Galbraith, his U.S. deputy. Galbraith, who was fired in September, accused Eide of not doing enough to publicize fraud in the Aug. 20 presidential election.

Eide, 60, also reportedly had clashed with U.S. special envoy Richard C. Holbrooke over whether a "special representative" should be named to work with Karzai on fighting corruption.

In a speech this week, Eide said the international community needed to strengthen Afghan institutions rather than try to work around them.

"If the people of Afghanistan know that a good future is waiting for them," he said, "they will not be weak."

But he said corruption was rampant, noting that a U.N. survey found that half of high-level Afghan officials were either corrupt or too weak to fight corruption in their midst.

Eide's announcement came just days before Karzai is expected to announce his choices for Cabinet ministers. International leaders, including President Obama, will watch to see whether Karzai keeps his promise to purge corrupt or questionable officials.

The U.N. mission in Afghanistan includes coordinating the delivery of humanitarian aid, monitoring human rights and assisting Afghan-led efforts at reconciliation with insurgents.

tony.perry@latimes.com

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