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As UN Spins Statements on Sudan Separatism, Ban's Stance on Sri Lanka Recalled

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 2 -- Following a protest of the UN in Juba, South Sudan which included calls for "Ban Ki-moon [to] repent before judgment," the UN belated rushed to argue that Mr. Ban was misquoted by AFP about disfavoring a vote for self-determination by the South Sudanese.

  Ban's Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq came in late for Tuesday noon briefing at the UN in New York, read a statement then began to leave the podium without taking any questions. Inner City Press called out, will you take questions later? When he did, later, the UN did not transcribe it.

But Inner City Press asked Haq both what the UN says Ban told AFP, and how Ban's statement about making unity attractive does not indicate a preference. Haq argued that this language is from the CPA. He said he would later provide Ban's actually words to those interested. Video here, from Minute 1:50.

When Inner City Press went to Haq's office before six p.m. on Tuesday, it was closed. The Deputy Spokesperson handed Inner City Press a print out in which AFP had dutifully modified the quote. This was taken at face value.

But also in Haq's begrudging Q &A period, when Inner City Press asked about UN vehicles stolen in Darfur, Haq answered that this would not undermine the UN's "relationship" with "military leaders of Sudan." Video here, from Minute 3:33.

  Ban Ki-moon, whether due to personal beliefs or by letting others in his administration take the lead, has elsewhere come down firmly on the side of central governments over minorities seeking autonomy.

Protest of UN and Ban in South Sudan, Tribune

  During the Sri Lankan bloodbath on the beach of 2009, for example, he and his closest advisors were seen as doing little to stop the Rajapaksa regime in Colombo from bombing civilians in norther Sri Lanka, to crush "separatism."

  This is not irrelevant from consideration of Ban Ki-moon's statements and attitudes about Sudan. You can make AFP run a correction, then dodge and not transcribe questions, but the issue remains and will be pursued. Watch this site.

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At UN, Araud of France on Chad and Guinea but not Myanmar, Francophonie Meltdown

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 2 -- With France taking over the Presidency of the UN Security Council for February, Ambassador Gerard Araud told the Press on Tuesday that Myanmar is not on the agenda, because no member had raised the issue. Video here, from Minute 34:12.

This despite previous impassioned statements about Burma by both France and the UK -- the U.S. now seems to reply on Senator Jim Webb -- and other European members.

A non-permanent Council member told Inner City Press that the idea is that Myanmar can be raised "as needed." The UN's policy, too, is on auto-pilot, with envoy Ibrahim Gambari having left the post temporarily in the hands of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's titular chief of staff Vijay Nambiar.

Ban's actual main advisor, deputy chief of staff Kim Won-soo, recently told South Korean outlet JoongAng that he and UN political chief Lynn Pascoe will travel to North Korea starting February 9. Since North Korea was not even in the footnotes of the program of work Araud presented on Tuesday, Inner City Press asked if Araud expected Pascoe to briefing the Council upon his return.

  "We have been informed of the mission of Mr. Pascoe and his team to Pyongyang," Araud answered, adding that a briefing after the visit was expected. Then why wasn't it in the program of work?

  France leads the group of experts about the UN Peacekeeping mission in former French colony Chad. Inner City Press asked Araud about Chadian President Idriss Deby's statement that the UN Mission mandate should not be renewed past its March 15 expiration. Video here, from Minute 8:01.

  Araud answered, "As you have said, I think it is right, the president of the Republic of Chad has signaled his will to see the force withdrawn after 15 March. But the Secretariat has sent a mission to N’Djamena, therefore there are high level contacts between the Secretariat and N’Djamena and we are waiting for the result of this mission."

  Sources tell Inner City Press that in the closed door Chad experts meeting, the U.S. told the UN Peacekeeping Department DPKO to not make any commitments while in Chad, but to return to New York for instructions. When leadership of the MINURCAT mission passed from the European Union to the UN, Deby used it as a chance to charge more money. And now?

Araud on Feb. 2: this is not acceptable, where are your helmets?

  Surprisingly, when Inner City Press asked Araud about the finding of Guinea's national commission exonerating Dadis Camara for the killings on September 28, 2009, Araud responded with procedural notes about the Council supporting the political process, and praise for Burkina Faso's mediation.

  What about Dadis Camara's war crimes? What about a human rights component being added to the MINURSO mission in Western Sahara? It should be an interesting month. Watch this space.

Footnote: Araud began the press conference in French, then stopped, to wait for non Francophone reporters to get their "helmets" or translation headsets. When this was delayed, Araud demanded, "C'est pas comme ca," it's not like that, not acceptable, saying, I don't speak English! Video here, from Minute 1:55. Araud said several times, I meet often to the press. Inner City Press has inquired into this, and will be testing it this month.

 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 debat

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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