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Annan sets sights on UN reform, slams oil-for-food coverage

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile; JURIST news archive] said in his traditional year-end press conference [transcript; JURIST video] Wednesday that he wanted to dedicate his final year in the position to encouraging peace and UN reform [JURIST news archive]. Looking back on 2005 he also offered stinging criticism of the media coverage of the UN oil-for-food program [JURIST news archive], accusing journalists of focusing too much on his and his son Kojo's involvement in the program rather than charges that more than 2,200 companies and individuals paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's government. Annan was cleared of wrongdoing in a report issued by a panel [JURIST report] led by former US Federal Reserve Chief Paul Volcker, but the reports were critical of Annan's management of the program. In one particularly harsh rebuke, Annan called Times reporter James Bone "cheeky" after he asked a question about Annan's involvement in the program. Annan said, "You have been behaving like an overgrown schoolboy in this room for many, many months and years. You are an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession." Annan also called for agreement on a budget dispute [JURIST report] that he said threatened to stall reform efforts [UN news release] in his final year. AP has more.

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