Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has agreed to replace Kofi Annan as the international mediator on Syria, but with an altered mandate, U.N. sources quoted by Reuters news agency said on Thursday.
Annan is stepping down at the end of August after six months in the job because he said his Syria peace plan was hampered by a divided and deadlocked U.N. Security Council.
Diplomats told Reuters that Brahimi, who had been undecided for days about whether to accept the offer of the post from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, did not want to be seen as a mere replacement of Annan but wanted an reconfigured title and mandate.
“He is in,” a well-placed source told Reuters on condition of anonymity, adding that Ban “has accepted that he would change the title.” A Security Council diplomat confirmed the remarks.
U.N. officials said it was not clear when an official announcement would be made. Annan’s title was joint special envoy for the United Nations and Arab League.
It remains unclear what Brahimi’s formal link with the Arab League, if any, will be, diplomats said. They said Brahimi would be based in New York, unlike Annan, who is based in Geneva.
Earlier on Thursday, Al Arabiya learned that the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, would call Brahimi, who is currently vacationing on the Indonesian island of Bali, to ask for his final answer.
Al Arabiya broke the story on August 3 that the astute and experienced Algerian diplomat made his acceptance conditional on the Security Council passing a resolution backing his mission and implementing consequences on those who do not fulfill their commitment.
According to diplomats speaking to Al Arabiya, the decision day arrived on Thursday and the Deputy Secretary-General was faced with either gaining the acceptance of Brahimi or being forced to deal with his refusal and move forward.