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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 December, 2004, 20:56 GMT
US senator calls on Annan to quit
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
It is the first time a senior politician has called on the UN head to quit
A US senator has called on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to quit over alleged corruption in the oil-for-food programme in Iraq.

Norm Coleman alleges ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was allowed to profit from the UN-backed scheme and that Mr Annan is ultimately responsible.

The Republican senator is conducting a congressional probe of the allegations.

Correspondents say dissatisfaction with Mr Annan is rife among US Republicans, and is shared by the White House.

This is the first time a senior politician has called in plain terms for the secretary general to go.

Mr Coleman, who is chairman of the Senate investigations sub-committee and a member of the Senate foreign relations committee, claims Saddam Hussein personally made more than $20bn in illegal profit from the scheme.

"The decision to call for Mr Annan's resignation does not come easily, but I have arrived at this conclusion because the most extensive fraud in the history of the UN occurred on his watch," Mr Coleman said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

He added Mr Annan was "at the helm of the UN for all but a few days of the OFF (oil-for-food) programme, and therefore, must be held accountable for the UN's utter failure to detect or stop Saddam's abuses".

Senator Coleman says the UN cannot root out corruption while Mr Annan is in charge.

No confidence

The attack follows the disclosure earlier in the week that Kofi Annan's son had received money from a company under investigation in connection with allegedly corrupt oil-for-food payments.

The UN says there is no evidence of wrongdoing, but asked if the Bush administration still had confidence in the secretary general.

US ambassador to the UN John Danforth pointedly avoided saying yes, thus giving the green light for Senator Coleman to lead this effort to have Mr Annan sacked, says the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington.

The UN's Iraq oil-for-food programme allowed Baghdad to sell oil in exchange for civilian food and supplies between 1996 and 2003 to ease the effects of the international sanctions.

UN chief reacts to son's payments
30 Nov 04 |  Middle East
Iraq oil corruption 'tops $21bn'
16 Nov 04 |  Business
US publishes Saddam 'bribe list'
07 Oct 04 |  Middle East
Iraq oil-for-food probe spreads
21 Jun 04 |  Business
UN chief hits out at fraud claims
29 Apr 04 |  Middle East
Oil-for-food 'made Saddam $10bn'
19 Mar 04 |  Business

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