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Bush, using end run, installs Bolton at UN

WASHINGTON

ng roughshod over objections that his choice is ill-tempered, abusive and unfit to represent the United States, President George W. Bush bypassed a stalled Senate yesterday and named blunt-speaking John Bolton as his envoy to the United Nations.

"This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about UN reform," Mr. Bush said.

Using a constitutional loophole that allows a president to circumvent the usually required congressional confirmation, Mr. Bush installed the controversial Mr. Bolton with a "recess'' appointment that will last until January, 2007.

The appointment of the burly Mr. Bolton, 56, had been stalled for months as Democrats fought his confirmation and even several Republicans voiced grave doubts about his suitability for high office.

Stunning testimony sullied his character, but he remains a champion to the right wing of the Republican Party.

"I've never seen anyone quite like Secretary Bolton in terms of the way he abuses his power and authority with little people," the Senate was told by Carl Ford, a former top State Department official. Calling Mr. Bolton, a "serial abuser," Mr. Ford described him as "a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy."

Mr. Bolton was also accused of bending intelligence reports to suit his personal conclusions, an explosive issue in Washington where the Bush administration is widely suspected by its critics of moulding intelligence reports on Iraq's weapons capability to underpin its case for war.

The President, who has staunchly backed the tough-talking Mr. Bolton, said the appointment is vital and further delay dangerous, given sweeping changes at the United Nations. His decision will delight core conservative backers and infuriate Democrats.

Critics of Mr. Bush's foreign policy regard Mr. Bolton as a dark exemplar of its unilateralist and combative themes. But the brouhaha over his appointment seems likely to fade as the much higher stakes Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts takes centre stage next month.

At the United Nations, the vexed issue of reform will revolve around an expanded Security Council. So far, the Bush administration has announced its crucial backing for adding Japan but others -- notably India -- are vying for Washington's approval.

In New York, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, whose own future is clouded by a continuing investigation into corruption in the Iraqi oil-for-food program, diplomatically said, "we look forward to working with him."

Mr. Bolton's abrasive style may not sit well in the hushed and comfy corridors of diplomatic niceties at the United Nations but his dispatch to New York sends a clear signal that the Bush administration remains committed to working at changing the world body. While Republican Party right-wingers would prefer to ignore it, Mr. Bush has so far taken his case to the United Nations and continues to assert that it remains the primary forum for resolving international issues such as Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Although the appointment lasts only until January, 2007, two years before Mr. Bush leaves office, it remains unclear whether the Senate battle over Mr. Bolton will resume then. Mr. Bush could renominate him, name someone else or wait until another recess and renew Mr. Bolton's appointment. Meanwhile, the Senate could hold the full vote it has so far avoided.

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