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Myanmar Silence at UN Half-Broken by Kerim, Mysteries Continue, Currency Dodged

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

UNITED NATIONS, September 4 -- While the UN Secretary-General's silence on his envoy Ibrahim Gambari's mission to Myanmar continued on Thursday, twelve days after Gambari left the country, the Spokesman for Srgjan Kerim, President of the UN General Assembly, read out a cryptic statement:

"Following a detailed briefing today from Ibrahim Gambari, the Special Advisor of the Secretary-General, on his latest visit to Myanmar, the President encourages the Government of Myanmar to continue to work closely with the Special Advisor to achieve concrete progress on the suggestions he put forward during his recent visit."

  Inner City Press asked if Gambari had told Kerim why he had not met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. "Yes," the spokesman said, then declined to divulge what these reasons were.  Inner City Press asked if Kerim thought Gambari's visit was useful or, as UK Ambassador John Sawers put it, "disappointing."  Kerim sees it as a process," the spokesman said, using the UN's new buzzword for its Burmese days.  But was this visit a step forward, or a step back in the process? He doesn't want to characterize it, the spokesman said. Video here, from Minute 58:02.

  At least Srgjan Kerim issued a statement and took questions. While Ban Ki-moon appeared in the briefing room on Thursday to read a speech about an anti-poverty study, he did not take any questions. Nor has any explanation been provided for Gambari's failure to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi. There is a communications breakdown, which apparently the UN will only try to fix after Gambari briefs the Security Council. But when will that be?

Srgjan Kerim and Ibrahim Gambari: a meeting, a mystery

  On September 3, Inner City Press asked this month's Council president, Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso, when Gambari will brief.  Ambassador Kafando replied that he would meet with Gambari that day or Thursday to arrive on a date.  But after Thursday afternoon's Council session, on Somalia and Cyprus, President Kafando did not as is customary come to the stakeout to speak with the Press. It was explained that he only wants to come with a translator, and for now one will only be provided after consultations or private meetings of the Council. So basic questions cannot be asked or answered. (A written question has been posed, its resulted will be posted on this site.)

   The General Assembly spokesman also provided an answer to Inner City Press' question, in light of protesters across from the UN with signs about decertifying the Than Shwe government from Myanmar's UN seat, about the decertification process:

"ultimately member states are the ones who decide on credentials. It is up to them to review credentials and any challenge to credentials. Reviewing credentials is done by the Credentials Committee for each session and they make their recommendations to the General Assembly. The review of credentials is governed by rules 27, 28 and 29 of the GA rules of procedure."

  The Associate Director of the UN Development Program Ad Melkert was asked about UNDP's role in the UN's system's losses in Myanmar in currency exchange dictated by the Than Shwe government. Video here, from Minute 32:10. To be continued.

Watch this site. And this (on South Ossetia), this, on Russia-Georgia, and this --


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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

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