Takes Note of Grenade-Scarred One Party Election in Burundi,
Mutineer Taking Power in Guinea-Bissau
June 30 -- When an election on which the UN has spent years
ends up with a single candidate and the opponent in hiding, and
polling's marked with the deadly tossing of grenades, what does
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon do? He “takes note” of the one
party election, in this case in Burundi. But what does this mean?
June 28, after
Ban praised the referendum in Kyrgyzstan that was marked by ethnic
cleansing then declined to take questions on his praise, Inner City
Press asked his spokesman Martin Nesirky if Ban would also praise
Burundi. We'll have something tomorrow, Nesirky said.
indeed he did.
In the opening
of the June 29 noon briefing, Nesirky provided updates
on two outstanding questions:
was asked about Burundi. The Secretary-General takes
note of the presidential election that took place on 28 June.
In regard to the rest of the electoral cycle, the Secretary-General
calls on all Burundians, and their political parties, to continue
settling their disputes through peaceful means and an inclusive
dialogue, and he urges them to persist in consolidating national
cohesion and their hard-won peace.
also asked yesterday about the appointment of a new Chief of
Staff in Guinea-Bissau. The United Nations takes note
of the appointment of Major-General Antonio N’djai as the new Chief
of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Guinea-Bissau. The Special
Representative of the Secretary-General in Guinea-Bissau, Joseph
Mutaboba, is consulting national and international stakeholders on
the way forward, particularly with respect to security-sector reform,
addressing impunity, restoring respect for the rule of law and
strengthening democratic governance. Our goal is to secure the
cooperation of all concerned, including the military leadership, in
the continued pursuit of our peacebuilding mission, which includes as
a central feature the introduction of vital reforms in the security
saying that a one party election is far less than ideal. In
Guinea-Bissau, the UN had expressed concern that the mutineer might
be rewarded with a government post. But then when it happened, the UN
merely “took note.” And so Inner City Press asked
Press: I just wanted to follow up on these two announcements
that you made on Burundi and Guinea-Bissau. In the Burundi election,
there was only one candidate, and since then grenades have been
thrown at the Electoral Commission, killing two people. You’re
saying Ban Ki-moon takes note of it. What does that mean?
I said he took note of the presidential election.
Press: Is that some kind — “taking note” means he doesn’t
view a one candidate’s election positively, or he views the
throwing of grenades as unhelpful? What is he taking note of?
UN's Ban takes note of one party election in
Burundi, grenade attacks not shown
Of the presidential election that took place on 28 June. And what
it also says — I can repeat it for you — is that he calls on all
Burundians and their political parties to continue settling their
disputes through peaceful means and inclusive dialogue; peaceful
means and inclusive dialogue. And that’s a message that he took
directly to the people, including the President, when he visited
Bujumbura earlier this month.
Press: I was just wondering, maybe if you could get [inaudible]
like at the Security Council, like taking note. Is he troubled by
it? Is he concerned by it? Is he just aware of it? I just want, if
you could give…
Well, for now it says what it says, Matthew. It says what it says.
There may be more coming from the Mission subsequently, but that’s
what we’re saying at the moment. And importantly, he stressed on
the spot, when he was there in Bujumbura, and he’s saying it again
now, through me, as he is on his way to the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, that this is a process after a conflict, and there needs
to be some persistence here to work to consolidate national cohesion.
No one is saying that they’re there yet. But they need to push
ahead with that. And in doing so, they need to be as inclusive as
possible. Okay, and you want to add something on Guinea-Bissau, did
Press: No, I think it’s just you used exactly the same phrase,
and it seems like, I think the question you were asked yesterday is
whether the UN, which had expressed concern about this individual
getting the post, is concerned now that the person has gotten the
post. And I guess, I put the two together, maybe “taking note”
means there is concern. I just wasn’t sure.
Well, it’s not for me to try to parse or interpret the wording. I
think, probably, I’d have to leave that to you.
So how should we interpret
Ban's mere "taking note" of this UN's inability to positively impact
even Burundi and Guinea Bissau? Watch this site.
* * *
Russian After Failing to Speak Up for Ethnic Uzbeks on Kyrgyz
29 -- With the UN slavishly supporting
Constitutional referendum from which the Uzbek minority was
disproportionately excluded due to ethnic cleansing, it has chosen to
hide behind Russian. Not the Russian government, which like the US
backed the flawed referendum to defend its Kyrgyz base, but the
Press twice asked the UN to confirm that the constitution
would outlaw the formation of ethnicity based parties: that is, any
Uzbek party. Only after a third request on June 28 did the UN
respond, with this:
to your exchange with Martin at the Noon Briefing, just wanted to
help point you to the relevant part of what you'd asked about...
The reference you
is under Article 4., point 4.3:
политических партий на религиозной,
этнической основе, преследование
религиозными объединениями политических
is in Russian but am sending in case it's of any help to
strange that the UN, sometimes called translation central, could or
would not provide an English version of this single line of Russian,
requested three times in a week. In fact, the UN provided Inner City
Press with a translation of other material it had not requested. But
when Inner City Press sought among its network a translation of what
the UN provided only in Russian, this was the result:
Kyrgyz Republic it is forbidden:
political parties on the basis of religion or ethnicity, or
on any attempt to, by religious gatherings or parties, achieve
the answer was
and is yes, the UN backed a referendum from which the Uzbek
minority was disproportionately excluded on a constitution which will
now bar the Uzbeks from organizing to defend themselves.
UN's Ban on April 8, ethnic and Constitutional cleansing not shown
City Press also asked:
I heard the statement both by Mr. [Miroslav] Jenca and
then reiterated by the Secretary-General this morning about the
referendum in Kyrgyzstan. I was wanting to ask: what is the UN’s
estimate of the turnout of ethnic Uzbeks? There are some reports
that, for example in the border town of Suretash, only a hundred to
4,000 people were able to vote. So, I’m just wondering, what does
the UN statement mean when compared to such low turnout numbers
reported for ethnic Uzbeks?
reported by whom?
Well, there are a number of things here. First of all, the
UN is not observing, and the UN is not counting votes or voters.
Then why are they praising?
me finish, first of all, to try to answer your question. First
of all, there is the Central Election Commission. That’s the body
which is compiling the figures. So, the figures on turnout will be
coming from the Central Election Commission. And I checked their
website before I came here; it’s in Kyrgyz and Russian, and there
are very detailed figures by each province or district showing the
turnout and absolute figures in each case. And of course, overall
figures. And that’s the first thing. So I would encourage you to
take a look at that. And the second thing is, perhaps more helpfully
for you in English, as well as Kyrgyz and Russian; the OSCE’s
[Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s] office for
democratic institutions and human rights has put out a fairly
detailed overview in a statement of its preliminary findings and
conclusions. This is, as I said, this is preliminary findings, as
you might expect, given this is less than 24 hours after the vote
itself. But they are quite detailed, and as Mr. Jenca and the
Secretary-General have said, they have taken note, and the Special
Representative of the Secretary-General has taken note of this
preliminary assessment by the OSCE and others where it’s clear that
there were some shortcomings. That’s clear. That’s obvious. But what
they believe is, and this is the assessment that this was
largely transparent. And the turnout; again, it’s for the Central
Election Commission, firstly, to give those figures. The turnout
that seems to be evident, not only from the Central Election
Commission in concrete numbers, but also from the more anecdotal
evidence, if you like, of the international observer, that there were
long-term observers that would tend to suggest that this was a
sizeable turnout. And most importantly, that it was peaceful. There
weren’t any violent incidents.
Just a quick follow-up. If these were the two bases for
the UN’s praise of the election, does the Central Election
Commission — apparently you’ve read them in Russian — are these
turnout numbers done by ethnicity or simply by geography?
by ethnicity. It’s done by geography; by the region. Yeah.
Does the UN have a particular concern or, I don’t know,
maybe “duty” is the wrong word, to the ethnic Uzbeks who were
being targeted by violence, left the country, many of them had their
ID cards ripped up — is that something, does this statement today
mean that they feel, that the UN feels, that the turnout and the
ability to vote of the ethnic Uzbeks of southern Kyrgyzstan was
sufficient, from the UN’s point of view?
we’ve said is that it really does demonstrate the aspiration
of the people of Kyrgyzstan for peace and stability and democracy.
That’s what we’ve said. That’s the first thing. The second
thing is that we’re not suggesting that this is the end of the
story, and that somehow this is perfect. It was not. There is work
to be done, and the United Nations will continue to provide the
technical support that’s required, not least by the Central
Election Commission, so that they can improve further and not least
so that when we get to the parliamentary elections at the end of this
year, they will be in better shape to ensure that it’s as inclusive
One last one on this, and thanks a lot. I think I had
asked last week whether you could confirm what a UN official had told
me — which is that the Constitution that was voted on and approved
over the weekend on Sunday outlaws political parties based on
ethnicity. And if so, that’s why I guess I’d be concerned, I’m
wondering if the UN sees any connection between a group being
targeted by violence, probably if the Associated Press can be
believed, having a lower turnout than other groups and, therefore, in
the future being prohibited from organizing around, I guess to
protect their rights on the basis of their minority status. Were you
able to confirm that that is in the Constitution?
personally. But I am sure that my colleagues in DPA [Department
for Political Affairs] can help me with that, and also my colleagues
then they gave
it only in Russian...
* * *
Praises Kyrgyz Vote But Takes No Question on Low Uzbek Turn
28 -- Capping a month of weak UN
action on ethnic
cleansing in Kyrgystan, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday
morning read out a statement to the Press lauding a high voter turn
out over the weekend on the Constitution, which outlaws ethnicity
based political parties.
began to ask Ban a question, for Ban's and the UN's estimate of turn
out for the targeted ethnic Uzbek group. We can give you information
at the noon briefing, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky cut in. Ban
border town of Suratash, to which ethnic Uzbeks fled to escape
violence and targeted rape, only 100 of 4000 people were able to vote
on the constitution, according to the Associated Press. How can the
Ban and the UN be praising such a turn out, and then refusing to take
questions? To some it smacks of propaganda.
Ethnic Uzbeks on the move, right to vote and UN
answers not shown
three questions for Ban to take, doing so in such a way that
Kyrgystan was unlikely to come up. The first question was on Israel
and Palestine; the next was on Iran. The last question was on Haiti.
All three were high diplomacy questions, none implicating the UN and
the decisions it makes.
Ban flies off
to the Congo, saying he will express the world's solidarity with the
Congolese people on the 50th anniversary of the DRC's independence.
What about the pending nepotism report against Ban's envoy to the
Congo, Alan Doss? Watch this site.
* * *
UN Still Supports June 27 Kyrgyz Referendum: Security
23 -- In the run up to the Kyrgyz constitutional
referendum still scheduled for June 27, the intentional
ethnic Uzbeks becomes ever more clear.
those who fled the country not be able to vote -- many of those
remaining have had their passports and other identity documents
burned or otherwise destroyed.
not be allowed to vote, on a
constitution which would outlaw any ethnic Uzbek based political
has not retracted its envoy Miroslav Jenca's statement that the
referendum “must” go forward on June 27.
That the US
both of which have bases in Kyrgyzstan, would want to push through
anything to make the de facto
government there appear more legitimate
is not surprising.
But isn't the
UN supposed to stand against ethnic
cleansing, and disenfranchisement based on ethnic cleansing?
Uzbeks flee Osh on bus, ability to vote June 27 not shown
June 22, Inner
asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky:
you said in one of your readouts about the difficulty of
delivering humanitarian aid because of the barricades. But some are
saying that in fact, I mean, the Uzbek community put up barricades
because people were coming into the community and burning their
houses and killing them, and committing other atrocities. What’s
been the UN’s position on the involuntary dismantling of the
barricades, particularly in light of a report today that troops,
Kyrgyz troops, beat and arrested ethnic Uzbek men in a neighbourhood
of Osh. Is that something the UN is concerned about — the removal
of barricades and increased violence?
remain concerned about the tensions that there are in
Osh, particularly in Osh, and elsewhere in the south of Kyrgyzstan. And
we’re obviously concerned, and the Secretary-General himself is
following closely the reports of some renewed violence and bloodshed.
On the barricades, Miroslav Jenc(a, the Special Representative of
the Secretary-General, has been in Osh, and has been speaking to
security officials and other local officials and also to local
people. And he’s fully aware of the sensitivities that there are
amongst the ethnic Uzbek population, and about the concerns that they
have. And I know that he’s been speaking to the authorities there
precisely because of those concerns.
Also on Kyrgyzstan, yesterday I was informed by a
well-placed person that the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov,
has informed the UN and Kyrgyz authorities that there can be no
polling in the refugee camps that have been established for people
that fled across the border. I wonder, one, if you can just, I mean,
I think this is true, but whether you can either now, or later today,
confirm the UN’s understanding. And then if you do confirm it,
explain how the UN can support an election that will, will you know,
absolutely, or formally disenfranchise at least 80,000 people based
on what many people see as ethnic cleansing.
of all, Mr. Jenc(a made clear in that audio briefing on Friday
that the question of holding the referendum is one for the
authorities of Kyrgyzstan. That’s the first thing. The second is
that there are obvious concerns about people who are not in a
position to vote. And I know that UN officials and others, including
from the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe]
and the European Union, are talking to the authorities of the interim
government of Kyrgyzstan about how one handles that. I will come
back to you with some more details particularly on that, the part of
the question about the Uzbek President having communicated with the
UN about polling on his territory.
And just one follow up on that, because I think there is
a Bloomberg or Business Week story in which Mr. Jenc(a is quoted as
saying the referendum must go forward. Has there been a change in
his position since he said that, or was he misquoted when he said
you heard what Mr. Jenc(a said here, or in this, by audio here
on Friday. It’s for the Kyrgyz authorities to decide on that. There are
many factors that are involved; the balance of legitimacy
For now, Security 1, Legitimacy 0...
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* * *
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