UN, Security Council Moves But Medical Files and Union Left Behind by
Master Plan, Conditions Set for Journalists
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 29 -- While the UN Capital Master Plan lurches
forward, some are left behind. On fifth floor of the Secretariat
building last week, the hallway was full of rolling carts of medical
Weeks ago, the UN Medical Service,
embroiled in a scandal of
doctors without U.S. licensed signing out controlled substances to
themselves, moved out to Second Avenue and 42nd Street, "above
the liquor store," as it's known.
the contractor had made the shelves for medical records too small. So
so the records stayed in an office empty but for the X-ray unit. This
apparently can't be moved "above the liquor store." It will
be buried in the UN's third sub-basement.
on the fifth floor, the UN Staff Union hasn't even been told where
they will finally move to. They were offered a minuscule space in the
Alcoa Building on 48th Street; this offer may have been withdrawn.
This despite a blustery
ultimatum from the Capital Master Plan, that
if journalists don't relinquish their offices on the fourth floor by
March 31, their files will be thrown out. If the Staff Union one
floor above is any indication, the April 1 deadline is false. We
In terms of the forced move of UN
correspondents to cubicles that initially
came equipped with security cameras above them monitored by the UN --
the "no whistleblower zone," Inner City Press dubbed it -- now the
UN wants to begin charging even for an inside-the-UN phone.
these allow correspondents to call and cover the UN's work in the
field, from Congo to Timor Leste, one wonders if it's smart. But this
UN must know what it's doing, monitoring and making things more
difficult for independent journalists.
As new Security Council was built- now finished,
journalists not shown
Secretariat, Staff Union officials complain, has been trying to
divide and conquer. While two officials have been released from day
to day UN work to perform Union functions, the second vice president
remains employed in the forestry unit of the Department of Economic
and Social Affairs. She wants and applies for promotions, setting up
a conflict of interest in her Union work.
indicate that she came into UN service "through the back door,"
seconded by Brazil and then somehow "regularized." She has
accused Union president Steven Kisambira of being an emperor; he has
responded by putting on a emperor-like hat. And so it goes at the UN.
To give credit where credit is due,
for the move of the Security
Council down to the old Conference Room 4 in the General Assembly
building basement, work went on over the weekend. By Monday morning,
if for example the Council wanted to meet about the subway bombings
in Moscow, they could.
visit Monday morning by Inner City Press found that the flags were
set up where the Vienna Cafe used to be. The consultations room was
in old Conference Room 5. And the horseshoe table was in place,
raised the mezzanine cheap seats, with a replica painting behind.
busted a nut," a CMP official said. Why not for those left
behind in the Secretariat? And how is the Council going to act when
the UN's Security Council Affairs has been relegated out to Third
Avenue in the so called Teachers Building of TIAA-CREF? There appears
to be dissension in that office.
Footnote: March 29 at 1:30 p.m., the first
stakeout was held in front of the new Council, a press statement on the
Moscow subway bombings. Inner City Press asked the first question --
was there any discussion by the Council of who was responsible? But the
Gabonese president for March declined to answer.
On Sudan, Moonlighting UN Staffer as
Darfur "Rebel" Leader, As
JEM Is Pressed to Support Elections on April 11
Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
NATIONS, March 28 -- With elections in Sudan approaching as threats
and irregularities multiply, a United Nations employee in Addis
Al-Tijani Al-Sissi suddenly emerged
as the head of newly formed rebel
Liberation and Justice Movement. Beyond the politics, one wonders
a person can be a paid UN employee and at the same time by a
pro-government "rebel" leader?
Al-Sissi being out of The Sudan for 20 years, and being a full time
staffer of the UN's Economic Commission for Africa, he was brought to
the fore as purported replacement for Abdel Wahid Al-Nur, leader of
the legacy rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, whose Fur tribe has thus
been unrepresented as Al-Nur refuses to participate in the Darfur
talks much less elections.
Fur willing to talk with al-Bashir was needed, and a UN staffer was
found. But to be a leader, he must have put time into the rebel
movement, while being a UN staffer. Why was this accepted?
City Press is informed that Al-Sissi's supervisor at the UN Economic
Commission for Africa, Abdalla Hamdok, complained about the
moonlighting or double service of Al-Sissi, but that nothing was
does not look good, one long suffering Darfuri told Inner City Press
on Friday. The UN has some explaining to do: watch this site.
Al-Tijani Al-Sissi, moonlighting from UN
ECA job not shown but accepted
with Sudanese opposition parties nearing a decision next week on
whether to boycott the April 11 election if Omar al-Bashir's National
Congress Party does not agree to postpone it, Inner City Press is
told by Arab Group ambassadors at the UN that pressure is being
brought to bear on Khalil Ibrahim of the Justice and Equality
Movement rebels to have JEM come out favor of April 11 polling.
Ibrahim has been summoned to Doha," Inner City Press was told by
an attendee of the March 26 meeting of the Arab Group, at the
Ambassadorial level, held in the UN's new building by New York's East
the UN on Friday, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to explain Ban's quote in Al Hayat
against any postponement of the election, video here,
City Press: There is an interview that the Secretary-General gave
with Al Hayat about… there are portions about President Bashir --
that he would not meet with him unless “absolutely necessary”. But
particularly it seemed to be quoting him as saying that he is not
in favour of any postponement of the Sudanese election. Something
the opposition parties there requested and the Carter Center has said
that -- and I believe that the UN in a background briefing has said
-- that 11 April would be would very difficult to accomplish. So,
what does he mean by no postponement? He believes it absolutely
should be held on 11 April?
Nesirky: Read out the exact quote.
City Press: Okay: “I understand that elections could be postponed
for a short period of time, but why should be made to postpone the
month of November? I am not sure it can properly [be] arranged at
that time.” So I am asking, I guess there are some words missing
Spokesperson: Yes, there are some words
missing. I read that, too, and there are
some words missing in that transcript. What I think is clear is, as
we have said before and has been said from here, there are fairly
considerable technical challenges to delivering that election for the
Government that is in the driving seat on this, and for those who are
providing technical assistance. It is a considerable undertaking. What
I think he is suggesting there is that, if there is a delay, it
does not mean that it will be any easier should there be a delay to
deliver at a later date. I think that is all he is saying.
some see a connection, which the UN has yet to address, to the UN
housing or hosting a pro-government rebel leader to support talks
with Al-Bashir, while also ignoring Sudanese opposition parties' call
for a postponement in light of abuse. Watch this site.
on the above quote by Ban Ki-moon, which came from the Sudan
Tribune's pick-up of Al Hayat's interview, a junior Al Hayat
correspondent ran into the UN press briefing room to say that her
newspaper's version of the transcript did not have any words missing.
While Inner City Press then explained where it got the quote from,
strangely neither statement was included in the UN's
although both can be seen in the video,