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UN denies press report that drug control agency chief was asked to step down

UN denies press report that drug control agency chief was asked to step down

A United Nations spokesman today denied a news report in the Financial Times of London that Secretary-General Kofi Annan has allegedly asked the head of the UN drug control agency, Pino Arlacchi, to leave at the end of his term.

Spokesman Fred Eckhard told a press briefing in New York that the story in the paper's Wednesday edition was wrong in reporting that Mr. Arlacchi had been requested to step down.

"That is false," Mr Eckhard said.

He added that the story was incorrect in reporting that the Secretary-General had told Mr. Arlacchi that he must leave as the head of the UN International Drug Control Programme when his contract finishes at the end of February.

"The Secretary-General has had no such conversation with Mr. Arlacchi," the spokesman said.

According to Mr. Eckhard, the Secretary-General has asked Joseph Connor, his chief manager, to evaluate the critique of Mr. Arlacchi's management style that was made by the Office of Internal Oversight Services. That evaluation is still being conducted and, until it is done, a decision will not be made.

In response to a question on whether the Secretary-General had any strong feelings on the matter, the spokesman said Mr. Annan had not spoken to Mr. Arlacchi or to anyone outside of the UN on the matter. He added that he did not want to indicate whether the Secretary-General was leaning one way or the other and that it was not the Mr. Annan's style to communicate to his senior managers through the media.

The Secretary-General faces decisions not only on Mr. Arlacchi, but on all his other senior managers who have contracts that expire at the end of February, the spokesman said. He added that Mr. Annan "will be undertaking a review of all these matters through the fall and then make any management decisions he feels are required for his second term starting by the end of the year."