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At UN, Ban Says Myanmar Scrutiny Should Be Reconsidered, UNSMIS Was Targeted?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 9, updated -- When the press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky about Syria Wednesday at noon, he replied that the press would hear more about this when Ban addressed the General Assembly at 3 pm.

  But there was a problem: that session was listed as closed to the media. After some back and forth described below, Ban Ki-moon came in and began about Syria. He said, "as you are aware, a bomb blast today near Deraa targeted a convoy of UN observers."

  There is another problem: other have said that the UNSMIS convoy was NOT the target; in fact, the Permanent Representative of a Permanent Member of the Security Council said that to Inner City Press moments before Ban Ki-moon came in.

  Ban continued on to say he'll create a new post, Assistant Secretary General for post 2015 development, and create a high level panel including the heads of state or government of Indonesia, Liberia and the UK, in that case David Cameron. (One wag mused Ban was lucky not to have chosen France's Nicolas Sarkozy.)

  Ban described speeches he gave in Washington, his trip to India and then Myanmar. On this last, he did not mention Good Offices envoy Vijay Nambiar by name (although Nambiar was in the room, genially sitting on the side while new chief of staff Susana Malcorra was on the podium with Ban).

  Ban said that the General Assembly may which to reconsider the 20 year old Myanmar Good Offices role. Some wondered: would the post be eliminated, as a reward to Myanmar?

  Afterward, an Asian Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that yes, the Good Offices should be eliminated "given the changes in Myanmar." Others said they hadn't understood this, or other parts, of what Ban Ki-moon had said.

  The pre-speech back and forth involved a photographer described as "doing a project with the UN's DPI" or Department of Public Information who was let in, and Inner City Press followed. Then Inner City Press was told that it could not stay.

  Asked why the UN could cover itself, but wouldn't consent to outside independent coverage, it was argued that the UN-affiliated person was not "covering" the speech -- a strange distinction, or admission. Ultimately, Inner City Press was allowed to stay for the speech, but not the member states' questions and responses afterward.

  And that was yet another problem, as for example the UK wanted its Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant's response to David Cameron being named to the High Level Panel to be webcast. It was not, by the UN's choice -- similar but presumably for different reasons to when the UN cut of its web cast before Syria spokes, after Ban, Kofi Annan and the President of the General Assembly.

[Update: here is a link to Amb. Lyall Grant's statement.]

  In this case, after the session ended a source told Inner City Press that "Iran asked a good question, what has actually been accomplished in development." We hope to have more on this - watch this site.

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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