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Deal on UN Budget at 6:30 AM Christmas Eve, Ivorian Mission Cut, Cynicism Charged

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 24 -- From the closed door UN budget talks in North Lawn Conference Room 5, applause broken out at 6:33 am on Christmas Eve.

 The final cuts had been made, to the UN's Ivory Coast mission. The US wanted $7 million, others said $5 million. Rather than settle in the middle, the US held out for a $6.5 million cut.

  "They shouldn't use the General Assembly for domestic political purposes," a representative on the Budget Committee complained to Inner City Press, adding more about US Ambassador for Management Joe Torsella.

  He panned what he called grandstanding, Torsella trying to get early meetings televised so that "House Republicans" could see him fighting the UN, then going secret and backroom in the final stages.

   The final cut, to the UNOCI Cote d'Ivoire mission, was reflective of the process. While the US and some others held out for an extra $500,000 cut, the other side bragged that no actual posts or jobs were cut.

  They marveled that the US and France, who earlier in 2011 said how important UNOCI was in the transfer of power to Alassane Ouattara from defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo, now wanted to slash this very mission. "It's the height of cynicism," an African Group diplomat told Inner City Press.

  Down in Conference Room 3 where the first of two rounds of voting would take place, Fifth Committee chairman Tommo Monthe paced around as the documents were handed out past 7:30 am. A Permanent Representative told Inner City Press of a call at 4 am, to come to the UN and vote.

CR 3 at 7:45 am on Christmas Eve, @@USJoe_UN not seen

  In the US seat, there was no sign of Joe Torsella. Perhaps he or the State Department would speak later via press release. But in the spirit of transparency, he should have taken questions. Watch this site.

Chair Tommo Monthe started the meeting and the voting at 7:45 am.

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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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