Top Canadian envoy at UN missing in Africa

December 16th, 2008 - 9:47 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Dec 16 (IANS) After the death of its three soldiers in Afghanistan Saturday, there was more bad news for Canada on the foreign front Monday, with a senior diplomat reported missing in the African nation of Niger.Robert Fowler, who was appointed as a special envoy to Niger by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon last July, went missing Sunday. He was in Niger to meet with governmental and non-governmental officials, UN sources said.

A landlocked former French colony, Niger has been plagued by political unrest for years.

A former Canadian deputy minister and the country’s ambassador to Italy, Fowler was traveling with his aide Luis Guay and a driver when they disappeared near the capital city of Niamey.

The car was found abandoned near the capital city, with no clues to its three occupants.

United Nations spokesperson Farhan Haq said efforts were under way to find the whereabouts of the missing diplomat, his aide and the driver.

“Their car was found about 45 kilometres northeast of the capital, Niamey, but without the three. We at the UN are trying to get further information from the (Niger) authorities,” Haq told a news channel.

“The authorities in Niger are trying…to determine what’s happened to those three missing individuals. But at present we don’t have any real information about their whereabouts,” he added.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said, “Our consular officials both in the capital of Niger as well as in other regional offices are actively engaged with both local and UN officials.

“I want to assure family, friends and all Canadians that we will do everything we can to resolve the situation successfully.”

An expert in public policy, Fowler has also served as the UN ambassador and advised many Canadian prime ministers on foreign policy affairs.

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