Sudan Claims "Unrelenting Backing" of UN's Ban,
Spokesman Snarks, Dodges
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, December 7, updated
-- Indicted war criminal Omar al Bashir received
the "unrelenting backing" of UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon during a December 6 phone call, Sudanese media has reported.
Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban's new spokesman Martin Nesirky about
this call and characterization, among other questions on December 7,
his first day. Video here,
from Minute 16:08.
that Ban's call was "purely on humanitarian grounds," about
two UN hostages in Sudan. He acknowledged that the appointment of
Ibrahim Gambari as the UN's and African Union's envoy to Sudan was
also discussed. So how, some wondered, can the call be legitimately
characterized as "purely" humanitarian?
asked about advise by the UN's own Office of Legal Affairs, that Ban
avoid Bashir since his indictment by the International Criminal
Court. Nesirky that it is "right" that their was advice to
retain a distance, but this was "purely humanitarian." He
confirmed that it was the first call from Ban to Bashir since the ICC
Sudan's state media's quote of Ban's "unrelenting backing"
of Bashir, Nesirky snarked, to some refreshingly, "Listen to me, not
were less clear. Inner City Press asked if Darfur envoy designate Gambari,
in his December 7 speech in Nigeria about that country's
leadership, was speaking for the UN, or being paid that day by the
UN. Nesirky said during the briefing he would look into it, and
reiterated later on Monday that an answer was in the works. But after
the lid was called, after 7 p.m. no answer had arrived.
UN's Ban and Bashir in 2008, still "unrelenting" backing?
asked if the UN joined the call by
ECOWAS that the military junta in
Guinea must leave power. Nesirky responded with a statement of
concern, but no direct response to the regional ECOWAS position. On
the Secretariat's withdrawal of its human resources proposal for
"continuing" rather than permanent contracts, Nesirky said
he'd respond later.
the UN's Congo
Experts' report, which links the UN Mission in the Congo with
murderous former rebel units of the Congo's army, Nesirky said "ask
the expert," who in fact claims to be independent from the UN.
The expert brought a Secretariat employee, who refused to answer but
rather passed notes to the Expert. So much for independence. Click here
for that, and watch this site.
of December 8, 2009 -- a day later, Spokesman Nesirky answered
questions from yesterday. I have some answers. I was asked about a
trip that Ibrahim Gambari made to attend a meeting in Nigeria. Mr.
Gambari was on annual leave at the time and he attended that meeting
in his personal capacity.
* * *
Congo Expert Covers Up for MONUC, Chides Press He Was With Under
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, December 7 -- The coordinator of the ostensibly independent
UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo appeared
in the UN briefing room on Monday to criticize the Press for focusing
on portions of the Experts' report which show the UN working
murderous former rebels engaged in Congo mining.
press conference, Dinesh Mahtani on December 4 declined to answer on
the record Inner City Press' questions about the UN's role in
providing logistical support to units of the Congolese army which
were until recently the rebel forces of Laurent Nkunda and indicted
war criminal Jean Bosco Ntanganda.
conference call at the German Mission to the UN, filled with an
audience of several dozen, Mahtani said "I can't speak on the
record," and referred Inner City Press to his press conference
on Monday. Dinesh was introduced, by former head of UN Peacekeeping
Jean Marie Guehenno, as having been a journalist in the past.
Guehenno also declined to answer questions.
when Mahtani took to the UN's rostrum accompanied by an employee of
the UN's Department of Political Affairs, he emphasized that the
Group is independent. He criticized press accounts of his report,
previously leaked to Reuters, BBC and others in Kinshasa, which
emphasized on the findings against the UN.
report, now available online here,
is mostly about two groups, the
FDLR and the CNDP, that latter of which has become a part of the
Congolese army. The UN's Mission in the Congo, MONUC, provides
logistical support to these former CNDP units, for example one led by
Innocent Zimurinda, who identified as Zimulinda is charged by UN
Special Rapporteur Philip Alston with murder and multiple rapes.
asked Mahtani if he believes the UN should be working for example
with these "Innocent" units. Mahtani replied that his
report mentions Zimurinda several times. But should the UN be working
got more surreal. Mahtani told one long time wire service
correspondent that her question was "strange." Dinesh
Mahtani, as it happens, reported from Kinshasa for Reuters, under the
name Dino Mahtani. Why so defensive?
In Bunia, mine awareness- land mine, that is, Experts not shown
defended China, which is named in the report as flying in weapons
without accounting for them to the UN Sanctions Committee. Defending
itself is the company Niotan, identified as a wrong-doer in the
report: it claims it has another name, Refractory Metals Mining
Company Limited. Sort of like Zimulina and a certain Mahtani... To be
the Report at paragraph 119 zeroes in on a Western Union transfer to
"the program manager of the Ahadi Institute, Edison Bashimbe
Nshombo [whose wife] reportedly administers medical treatment to
wounded FDLR in the region." But, hat tip CanWest, the Ahadi
Institute has as a supporter the UN's own UNESCO, click here for that,
and watch this site.
* * *
Congo's Gold Hits 60 Minutes, UN Is Let Off Hook, Wal-Mart's 10%
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, November 29 -- The Congo's conflict gold was the
subject of a fifteen minute feature tonight on the American television
program Sixty Minutes. A former rebel said he used collected gold to
buy weapons and ammunition from the Congolese army. A woman said she
was raped by men in Army uniforms.
accepted UN escort and showed a UN camp, but neglected to mention
that the UN now provides logistical support to the Congolese army,
which beyond weapon sales and rape has been documented for the mass
murder of civilians, by the UN's own special rapporteur and experts.
But the UN's
top envoy to the Congo Alan Doss has
told Inner City Press there is not
enough evidence, and has yet to act on Special Rapporteur Philip
Alston's report detailing mass rape by Congo's Army. (Click here for
coverage of Congo trip by Inner City Press.)
least mention this perversion of the UN's peacekeeping mandate, Sixty
Minute showed a UN camp to which 13,000 internally displaced people
fled. Bags of flour and beans and cooking oil were distributed on the
day of filming, for the first time in five months.
Minutes nor the two non governmental organizations which appeared on
screen, HRW and the Enough Project, explained the starvation
just outside a UN camp.
UN's Ban and Doss in Congo, continuing support of
rogue Army units not shown
The point of
the show was that just as conflict diamonds were focused on seven
years ago, conflict gold now cries out for action.
without explanation that the UN tries to stem the flow of conflict
gold. But if the UN is supporting Army units which rape, kill and
sell weapons, and which themselves control mines, how is the UN
trying to stop the flow?
Back in the U.S., Sixty Minutes quotes Tiffany's as identifying the
source of nearly all of its gold -- in Utah -- while Wal-Mart will only
that it will track the source of 10 percent of its gold by next year.
If it were rap music with profanity, Wal-Mart would take action. But
conflict gold from the Congo? Ten percent sourcing, maybe, by next
* * *
Murky on Angola's Oil, Bond and China Deals, Doles Out $1.4 Billion
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, November 25 -- Days after announcing a $1.4 billion
arrangement with Angola, the International Monetary Fund held a press
conference call to offer explanations. At the end, things were
murkier than before. Inner City Press asked if the IMF had been able
to fully assess the income and distribution of revenue from the state
owned oil company Sonangol.
Leigh, who led the Fund's missions to Angola in August and September,
replied that "in the context of our negotiations, Sonangol
participated fairly well." Inner City Press asked, since
Sonangol has accounts in off shore financial centers and tax havens,
if the IMF had gotten to the bottom of these accounts.
pause, Lamine Leigh proffered another answer, that the government has
"committed to steps in the more general area of resource revenue
transparency." But what about the Sonangol accounts?
Oil in Angola, Sonangol's accounts not shown
asked about the statement
by IMF Deputy Managing Director and Acting
Chair Takatoshi Kato that in Angola "measures will be taken to
strengthen further the regulatory and supervisory framework."
The IMF's Senior Advisor on Africa Sean Nolan replied that the IMF
analyzed the effect of the exchange rate on borrowers and "on
government has gotten billions in pre-export oil loans from, for
example, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank. The
latter has made similar loans in Turkmenistan, assailed by
transparency and human rights advocates. How much of the IMF's new
arrangement benefits these banks?
questioner after Inner City Press, cutting off follow up, was from
Standard Bank. Other than Inner City Press, the only other media
questioner was from Reuters.
ended, Inner City Press was able to ask about Angola's reported $4
billion bond sale planned for December. Sean Nolan said that the
IMF's "understanding" with Angola does involve a
"fundraising effort," but that the timing was not agreed
to, the IMF does not "micromanage" to that extent. Nolan added
that there is an agreement on an "overall limit."
billion dollars?" Inner City Press asked.
the precise limit will be "clear in the documents," which
have yet to be released. Why play hide the ball?
praised the country for "appointing reputable financial and legal
advisers for the transaction" -- JPMorgan Chase will be the manager.
that the actual size of the bond sale will depend on how much
"concessionary lending" Angola gets from "countries
with a strong record of financial support to Angola."
asked if the size of China's loans to Angola -- China gets 16% of its
foreign oil from Angola -- were known by the IMF or considered.
figured in our discussions," the IMF's Nolan responded. Why not? Watch
* * *