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As in Guinea Bissau 10% Denied Vote, UN Looks to 2d Round, Drug Lord Bygone

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 28 -- Ten days ago Guinea Bissau held a first round of elections, in which 10% of those registered were not allowed to vote and the country's former intelligence chief was assassinated five hours after the poll.

  On Wednesday the Security Council met about Guinea Bissau and afterward Deputy Permanent Representative Philip Parham of the UK, this month's Council president, began telling the Press that we heard how the first round of the elections, following the death of the President in January, had been conducted successfully and, as far as everyone can see, freely and fairly, on 18 March."

  Inner City Press asked, "it seems like the number two candidate, Kumba Yala, has said he wants boycott, said that up to 10% of the people that were registered weren’t allowed to vote in the first round. There’s this former Intelligence Chief killed five hours after the election and another former Official [Jose] Zamora Induta went to the EU compound... I heard some people saying things are looking good. But are these problematic?"

  Ambassador Parham replied that

"They are certainly problematic. I mean, what is good is that the first round was conducted in a way which observers from the AU, from ECOWAS and from elsewhere, including some visiting Parliamentarians from the UK, reckoned was essentially free and fair, so that is good and it’s good that that was done constitutionally within 60 days of the unfortunate death of the President in January. Clearly, it’s not good that the former Head of Intelligence was murdered shortly after polls had closed, not good that the former Head of the Military has felt he has to take refuge and the relations between the between the sort of civilian authorities and the Military are clearly still an important issue and the question about the participation in the second round of the elections is clearly an important issue and Joseph Mutaboba the SRSG made clear that they are very engaged on trying to ensure that the parties, as far as possible, work together constructively, so even as they compete in the second round, and we hope they will compete in the second round, they do so in a way that will lead to a stable outcome which everybody will accept and ECOWAS and the African Union are also involved in that effort and we heard that they will be sending a Mission to Guinea-Bissau shortly in order to encourage all the parties to work constructively together."

  Previously, the UN under Mr. Mutaboba provided long term shelter or sanctuary to a US-listed narcotics kingpin. The UN has not pushed for accountability for the assassinations in 2009; a Permanent Representative on Wednesday told Inner City Press the murder of former intelligence chief Colonel Diallo was "just a settling of accounts," and somehow not related to the election.

  Inner City Press asked a range of Security Council members on Wednesday about Guinea Bissau; a common theme of their responses was that "things are relative," seeming to mean that for Guinea Bissau, ten percent of voters disenfranchised might not be so bad, things could be worse. While it may be realistic to apply different standards, it should at least be noted. Watch this site.

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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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