UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura to step down next month

United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura speaks during a press conference in Geneva. (AFP)

The United Nations Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced on Wednesday he will step down at the end of November after more than four years in the key post, setting back UN efforts to end the seven-year war in Syria.

“I will myself be moving on as of the last week of November,” de Mistura told the UN Security Council during a meeting on the crisis in Syria.

The Italian-Swedish diplomat, who became the UN’s third Syria envoy in July 2014, said he was leaving for “purely personal reasons” and had discussed his plans to leave with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“I am not laying down the charge until the last hour of the last day of my mandate,” he said.

De Mistura will be traveling to Damascus next week to push for the creation of a committee to agree on a post-war constitution for Syria.

Syria is resisting the UN-led effort to set up the constitutional committee that will be comprised of government officials, opposition members and representatives of civil society.

De Mistura was appointed UN envoy for Syria in July 2014 after veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi resigned following the failure of peace talks in Geneva.

Brahimi spent two years in the position, stepping in after former UN chief Kofi Annan quit just six months into the role.

More than 360,000 people have died in the war in Syria, which began in March 2011 as an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad but has since morphed into a complex war with myriad armed groups, some of which have foreign backing.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:52 - GMT 06:52
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