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As Libya Bans a Lebanese UN Bodyguard, UN's Ban Says Nothing, Sources Say, Vanished Imam
By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 -- At the UN, often it is the questions not answered, and the protests not made, that are the real story. On Thursday morning after answering Inner City Press' questions about Myanmar, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was asked to comment, "One of your bodyguards was denied a visa because he is Lebanese. What's your comment?"

    While Ban answered that "I did enough yesterday. As you know I am leaving for Sirte, Libya," Inner City Press has looked into the issue. The raiser states that in the run up to the League of Arab States Summit in Sirte, Ban's office provide the Libyan mission to the UN with a list of his entourage, and ran into a problem.

One of Ban's bodyguard, the raiser says, is Mohammed Abdul-Hussein of Lebanon. Libya and its Leader have problems not only with Switzerland -- for the arrest of Gadafi's son for abusing his employees -- but also with Lebanon, on the matter of the Vanished Imam.

  The Libyan mission, the raiser says, told Ban's office that Mohammed Abdul-Hussein of Lebanon was "persona non grata." Rather than protest this, Ban or his office accepted, and submitted a list without Mohammed Abdul-Hussein, which was accepted.

UN's Ban on a previous, sUNnier trip to Sirte

  The raiser says a member of the Office of Ban Ki-moon's spokesman told him clearly that Ban knew of the issue, but let it go and decided, if he'd say anything, to say it after the trip to and from Sirte -- this was later denied.

  But inevitably the failure to protest would be contrasted to Ban's protest of blockage of a journalist from one of his traveling parties. Is the difference class, nationality or religion, the raiser asked Inner City Press? Watch this site.

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At UN, As Friends on Myanmar Calculate Their Share, Ban Splits Difference

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 25 -- Following the closed door meeting on Myanmar by the UN Secretary General's "Group of Friends" on Thursday morning, S-G Ban Ki-moon took two questions from the Press. One of his advisors told Inner City Press that both the United States and France have become "more nuanced," with only the UK still beating the drum about what they call Burma.

  He said that donors like Norway and Australia and Japan are trying to "recalibrate." He snidely pointed out that on roads outside of Yangon, the construction equipment is "all from Caterpillar," the U.S. firm.

  Meanwhile, India's Tata now plans a truck factory in Myanmar. India is said to be concerned that if they don't invest, Myanmar will become an economic colony of China. Money is talking. 

  Ban was flanked by his interim envoy to Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar and performed under the watchful eyes of diplomats from Friends of Myanmar who urge a hands-off approach. One of these told Inner City Press, before Ban began, that he would mention something about "that lady." Inner City Press was about to say, "The Lady?" but then asked Ban about it. See below.

Last Friends on Myanmar meeting- of this one, no photos were allowed

 From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has said, she has actually encouraged the NLD not to register for the polls under the current laws. I wonder what do you think can happen between now and when a date is set. Would you view that as a fatal flaw to the election, if the NLD didn’t participate? And are you thinking of naming a more permanent successor to Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari to carry out the good offices? Some say that having an interim person may either reflect or be interpreted as a lack of commitment on the issue.

SG: If what she said is based on her genuine belief, based on the current situations, then we have to respect her decision. I’m not quite sure what the surrounding circumstances were as she made that statement. However, she is the leader of her party and when she said such decision then I think that should be respected. That depends upon how people will decide on that. As a matter of principle, as I have said repeatedly, publicly and privately to the Myanmar leadership, that this election should be fully open, transparent, inclusive and participatory and credible, and I told the Myanmar leadership that without full participation of all the people, including political prisoners, and particularly Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, it may not be regarded as credible and inclusive. Therefore all the process and development, we have to carefully monitor. And about the appointment of Mr. Gambari’s position: at this time I have designated my Chef de Cabinet, Mr. Vijay Nambiar as ad interim Special Advisor until such time when I will be able to find a Special Advisor for that post.

Inner City Press: There was at least one report that you proposed a name to Myanmar and they turned it down. Maybe the report was wrong?

SG: No. I have never proposed any names.

   The purveyor of the report was the only other journalist to ask Ban a Myanmar question. Before he did, a UN Security Officer asked him to move away from the meeting room. He maintained to Inner City Press that Nambiar traveled to Myanmar to deliver Ban's letter, and that Ban has received a response that emphasizes Myanmar's sovereignty.

  Inner City Press asked at the noon briefing for confirmation that a response had been received, but the spokesman merely said he would look into it. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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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