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In Beirut, Ban Brags About Democracy with Saleh Advisor, Travel Pay Undisclosed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 15 -- At first UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon resisted confirming he would participate in a "democracy" conference in Beirut, and his spokesman Martin Nesirky declined to provide any speakers list.

  Now that he's there, the "Roundtable" list put online includes "Abdel Karim al Eryani, Former Prime Minister, Yemen" -- that is, a long time political adviser to dictator Ali Saleh, who went on Saleh's behalf to negotiate immunity in the Gulf Cooperation Council deal.  Democracy?

   Ban Ki-moon spoke with Saleh, but told Inner City Press he did not directly discuss with Saleh the immunity -- that is, impunity -- Saleh was seeking first through the GCC then through the US-supported deal being pushed by his cabinet.

   Now, speaking at the conference, Ban intoned "from the very beginning of the ... revolutions, from Tunisia through Egypt and beyond, I called on leaders to listen to their people. Some did, and benefited. Others did not, and today they are reaping the whirlwind."

   So who is it, that listened to Ban Ki-moon and to their people and benefited? Could it be Ali Saleh, who spoke with Ban (and use him a pass-through for the claim he could and would come to the US for medical treatment) and held out for an impunity deal?

   Before his speech in a dinner toast e-mailed out by Ban's spokesman's office, Ban said "Countries are moving closer to answering the calls of people who have peacefully gathered in the streets of Tunis, Cairo, Benghazi and Tripoli, Sana’a, Der’a, Hama and Homs."

   What about Bahrain? What about the United Arab Emirates, where Ban heads next?

  Before leaving on the trip, Inner City Press twice asked Nesirky to disclose if any party outside of the UN would be paying for Ban's travel, as recently for example Qatar did for Ban's travel from Nairobi.

Inner City Press: one follow up on this, and it goes back to something from December where I am wondering, is it possible to say if in this, even just this first leg that has now been confirmed, UAE and Lebanon, whether any of the travel would in fact be covered or paid for — the planes paid for by any country or other party?

Spokesperson Nesirky: If that is the case, I will let you know.

  Nesirky has yet to make this basic disclosure.

(c) UN Photo
Ban, Pascoe; spox wouldn't say which meetings
Roed Larsen was at

Other UN sources have long complained that the UNESWA trips in the region feature, draped in UN blue, a businessman who is related to the UN's business only by marriage. This is Ban's UN.

Footnote: In his speech, Ban also said "One-man rule and the perpetuation of family dynasties, monopolies of wealth and power, the silencing of the media, the deprivation of fundamental freedoms... To all of this, the people say: Enough." As other have nearly immediately noted, about about closer to home for Ban -- how about Kim Jong UN? 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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