Former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi
Former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi, pictured in May 2012, is to be named as the new United Nations and Arab League peace envoy to Syria in place of Kofi Annan, diplomats said Thursday. © Ashraf Shazly - AFP/File
Former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi
Last updated: August 11, 2012

Brahimi expected to be named new UN envoy to Syria

Lakhdar Brahimi, the former Algerian foreign minister favored to become the new UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, called on the UN Security Council to overcome its bitter divisions on the conflict.

"The UN Security Council and regional states must unite to ensure that a political transition can take place as soon as possible," Brahimi said in a statement released by The Elders, a group of world statesmen.

"Millions of Syrians are clamoring for peace. World leaders cannot remain divided any longer, over and above their cries."

"Syrians must come together as a nation in the quest for a new formula. This is the only way to ensure that all Syrians can live together peacefully, in a society not based on fear of reprisal, but on tolerance," Brahimi added.

The statement did not mention the possibility that Brahimi, 78, would take over from Kofi Annan as special envoy seeking to end the war between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opposition forces.

Annan has said he will stop work at the end of August, expressing bitterness at the lack of support from the major powers for his peace plan. Russia and China vetoed three Security Council resolutions that could have led to sanctions against Syria.

Diplomats said Brahimi could be named as early as next week. UN spokesmen have refused to comment on the reports, saying that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in consultations.

Annan is also a member of The Elders but suspended his activity with the group of influential former world leaders when he was named as special envoy in February.

The statement also contained comments from former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, who was considered another possible candidate for the post.

"We need the international community to show leadership, rise above vested interests and regional alliances and find genuine compromise in the greater interests of the Syrian people," said Ahtisaari, another member of The Elders.

Diplomats have also named former Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and former EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, also of Spain, as possibilities to become the new envoy.

The statement also contained comments from South Africa's Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and former US president Jimmy Carter expressing what The Elders called their "moral outrage" over the lack of international action on Syria.

The Elders were set up in 2007 by former South African leader Nelson Mandela. The group also includes Ela Bhatt, an Indian rights activist, Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former prime minister of Norway, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, ex-president of Brazil, Graca Machel, a former minister in Mozambique and Mandela's wife, and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and ex-UN human rights commissioner.

"The horrendous crimes being committed in Syria on a daily basis must be investigated, and perpetrators held to account," Robinson said.

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