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UN's African Office, Like Elder, on Life Support, Radio Okapi Complaint Left Unaddressed

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 11 -- On Tuesday at the UN, the official with the longest title spoke, slowly at that, about his mandate. Cheick Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, summarized a meeting he recently attended in Mongolia. Inner City Press asked why his title is not longer still, since it has been said that the LDCLLDCSIDS mandate now also includes the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa, which Ban Ki-moon is consolidating. Mr. Diarra answered that the OSAA still exists, but now reports through his office. Will the full consolidation require General Assembly approval? Mr. Diarra indicated that it would -- and he has served in the General Assembly, for Mali. Sources say negotiations on the closure are moving toward, well, closure.

            Also velocity-challenged is Sudan's granting of an exit visit to Suleiman Jamous, whose release to travel to Kenya for a stomach operation has twice been announced, but has yet to happen. At Tuesday's UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked

Inner City Press: There's this report that Mr. Suleiman Jamous still somehow didnít move to get medical treatment.  Can we find out whether he has actually gone and got the treatment?

Spokesperson:  I can check that for you.

[The correspondent was later informed that Mr. Jamous has not yet left Sudan.]

Inner City Press: And also there was Ms. Coomaraswamy, I think she was going to be the guest at noon yesterday.

Spokesperson:  Yes, she could not come, but we will try to reschedule her.  The problem is that we have press briefings every day now until the 14 and beyond, so we'll try to see whether we can have a better time for her so that she could come as closely as possible to her trip.

            Another press conference was unceremoniously cancelled on Tuesday. Humanitarian Coordinator John Holmes, first slated to address the media about Congo at the Security Council but bounced by UNDP's Kemal Dervis, appeared at 2:30 p.m. in the briefing room. But there were so few reporters that he quickly left, the UN TV screen fading to black. He will, it is said, be available at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. We'll be there.


Mr. Ban sweats in Mr. Diarra, Office of the Special Advisor on Africa not shown

            Also at Tuesday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked about open criticism, by a member state, of reporting by the UN's own media:

Inner City Press: Uganda has apparently complained about reporting by the UN-run Radio Okapi of Uganda mass[ing] troops on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Does the UN have any response?  Does it stand behind its report of Ugandan troop movements there?

Spokesperson:  You're talking about the press report by Radio Okapi?

Inner City Press: Yes.

Spokesperson:  We are not going to comment on that at this point.

            Then perhaps we won't comment further at this point, either...

  Again, because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

Feedback: Editorial [at] innercitypress.com

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540