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At UN, Ban Is Called "Not Invisible" By His Aides, Myanmar Silence Unexplained

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 29 -- Asked about 19 days of silence about Myanmar by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, his senior advisor Nicholas Haysum on Monday said, "We're dealing with the appearance of silence... the perception of invisibility." Ban's advisor on so-called "global goods," Robert Orr, was similarly abstract, saying that "this question of invisibility is a distraction."

  Inner City Press had asked both men about criticism of Ban that has come out in the past month, and if their joint appearance for nearly an hour marked some sort of new beginning by the Ban administration. "No," said Mr. Orr, this has "nothing to do with criticism." He said that no country, in its bilateral meeting with Ban, had raised the UN reform questions of availability of audits to donor states, or of whistleblower protection.

  If anything, Haysom said, Ban may issue too many statement. But why then did he cancel his scheduled September 27 press availability about Myanmar?  Sometimes, Haysom said, involvement in delicate negotiations limits the "capacity to stand outside the process and shout." But 19 days after silence from Ban after his envoy Ibrahim Gambari left Myanmar without meeting with either Nobel Peace Prize-winning democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi or General Than Shwe? 

Ban advisors Haysom and Orr, perception of invisibility not shown

  Another Nobel Prize winner, Jody Williams, told Inner City Press later on Monday that Ban's involvement in Myanmar has been useless, that's why Aung San Suu Kyi rebuff his envoy, and that Ban is legitimizing a scam constitution which excludes the regimes main opponents, who won elections in 1990.

  Haysom said the decision to cancel the September 27 press availability about Myanmar had been Ban's, and that he couldn't explain it. Perhaps the track record on this issue, ascriticized by Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, explains it.

News analysis: Things can, of course, always change. If Ban, who seems a genuinely affable person, does not want to speak to the press on the record about such issues as Myanmar and Darfur -- the latter he confined to off the record lunches which were then suspended -- then availability by his top advisors Haysom and Orr is better than nothing. If they they claim it has nothing to do with the mounting criticism.

Footnote: Inner City Press caught up with Ibrahim Gambari later on Monday, and told him of the criticism by Jody Williams and fellow traveler Mia Farrow. Gambari said that he had been with Farrow in Angola, working together. Those then were the days. We hope to have more from and about Gambari later this week.

Watch this site, and this (UN) debate.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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