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In Cameroon, UN's Mueller Congratulates Biya Despite Crackdown and Corruption, New Low

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person, this

UNITED NATIONS, February 23 – The deference of the UN system's and many of its member states to Cameroon's corrupt 35-year president Paul Biya, and their complicity in his recent crackdown, continues. After illegal refoulement to Yaounde from Nigeria, and ongoing crackdowns, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' humanitarian deputy official Ursula Mueller has offered "congratulations" to Biya's foreign minister Mbella Mbella. Photo and UNanswered Press question here. This comes after Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric if Mueller would stop in the Anglophone zones, and since not, why not? He replied that the overall humanitarian situation would be discussed. Yeah - with thanks and congratulations, echoes of the golden statue that Guterres took in October. Meanwhile in Nigeria people are being prosecuted for sheltering refugees from Cameroon, and Guterres and the UN are silent. We'll have more on this. A new report details Biya's long stays outside of the country in Geneva, while his military kills Anglophones and the country declines. Biya has spent four and a half years in Geneva, at a cost of $65 million in hotel fees and $117 million for chartered private plane, sometimes left "on stand-by" for weeks at a time. The report goes one level down: "One of Biya’s closest confidants, Joseph Fouda, a military officer and special advisor, has accompanied him on at least 86 trips, amounting to more than three years of travel since 1993. He prefers a room on a top floor of the Intercontinental. Another close confidant, Martin Belinga Eboutou, 78, has spent nearly three years travelling with the president starting in 1987, when he was Cameroon’s ambassador to Morocco. The president attempted to buy a brand new private jet in 2004, but his staff reportedly cut corners on the deal, buying a defective plane covered by a fresh coat of paint that nearly crashed on its first flight. Since then, the president has chartered at least several private aircraft, including a luxury jet formerly owned by the government of Kazakhstan." Still UN Secretary General, himself a murky first class flyer, smilingly took Biya's golden statue and has done nothing; his advisers Khassim Diagne and the outgoing head of Political Affairs have assured him of Biya's bona fides or the wisdom of doing... nothing. The UN has failed. The UN refugee agency UNHCR in Abuja early on January 30 told Inner City Press that it has as yet no comment on the blatant forced repatriation or refoulement to Cameroon of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and 46 others while it seeks "explanations through official channels." (Later UNHCR issued a short statement.) On January 31, Inner City Press again asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here and below. When Inner City Press on February 8 put the refoulement question to Francois Delattre, the UN Ambassador of France which has supported Paul Biya's 36-year rule, Delattre replied that "We always have views but no comment from me at this stage." Video here. That is irresponsible - or another sign of France's responsibility for what is happening in the region. We'll have more on this - and now on Germany. Angela Merkel's "personal representative for Africa" Gunter Nooke showed up in Yaounde on February 15 trying as he does elsewhere to drum up business. With him was Ambassador Hans Dieter Stell; there was according to CRTV "the exchange of gifts symbolic of Cameroon's legendary hospitality." Another golden statue like UNSG Guterres took? At UN headquarters, as Inner City Press alone asked, Germany's Ambassador procured a publicly funded post for his wife by merely emailing Guterres' chief of staff. Inner City Press asked Dujarric and his deputy Haq - no real answer - while the only other question asked about it was how the information about the job had leaked. The media asking that is given full access to the UN by the UN Department of Public Information of British Alison Smale, a major Germanophile who continues to have Inner City Press restricted, its long time work space given to a no-show no-question Egyptian state media. We'll have more on this.

The United Kingdom's silence about the plight of Anglophone residents of the former British Southern Cameroons persists even in the face of a Freedom of Information Act request from Inner City Press.

More than five months ago on 15 August 2017 Inner City Press asked the UK government for records concerning Cameroon. After repeatedly extending the time to response, now the UK has denied access to all responsive records, letter here, saying that "the release of information relating to the UK’s discussion on UN business could harm our relations and other member states of the United Nations (UN)."

Here on Patreon is the full denial letter, from which Inner City Press is preparing an appeal, on Yemen as well - it has 40 working days.

This is shameful - the UK is also exiting transparency.

On February 6 in front of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked the United Kingdom's Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen for the UK's comment on Nigeria's forced repatriation of 47 to Cameroon. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: Nigeria did a forced repatriation of 47 Cameroonian leaders. The UNHCR said it was illegal. The US has commented on it. Does the UK have any view? Amb Allen: I’m afraid I wasn’t aware of that before. I’ll have to get back to you on the details." Video here. At day's end, a UK Mission spokesperson sent Inner City Press a short comment, here.

As Inner City Press pursues these questions at the UN, again it remains restricted to minders by the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, who it is noted is British - and functionally a censor. A retaliator, too? As noted, Smale has not explained why Inner City Press' long time work space is assigned to no-show, no-question Egyptian state media Akhbar al Youm.

On Cameroon and Yemen, UK Denies Inner City Press FOIA Request After 170 Days, Preparing to Appeal, 40 Work... by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

Meanwhile the French government, which claims at the UN and elsewhere that human rights is in its DNA, has ignored the refoulement, limited its condemnation instead, via
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Von der Muhll, on "new killings of law enforcement officials that took place on 1 February in Cameroon."

In Yaounde, France's Ambassador Gilles Thibault is focusing, like Reuters' ostensibly charitable arm, on the cultivation of pepper, see here. This is colonialism.Are these the relations that the UK claims would be hurt by complying with FOIA? Watch this site.


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