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At IMF, Of Muslim Brotherhood, Asian Homers, No Sri Lanka or Myanmar, Ban Hype?

By Matthew Russell Lee

IMF, April 20, updated with video link -- There is a lot of hot air at the International Monetary Fund during its Spring Meeting, but every once in a while a question actually gets answered. On Friday Inner City Press asked IMF official Masood Ahmed about Egypt, whether a military government in what should be its declining days should be able to bind future Egyptians to the tune of $3.2 billion.

  He replied that "to be successful, [an IMF program] has to enjoy broad support in the country. Because the program is going to be implemented over a couple of years."

  He said that the current government has a "self defined limited duration" -- let's hope so -- and so the IMF has consulted "those likely to be in the incoming government need to be saying broadly supportive of program."

  There, was that so hard? Inner City Press had asked Masood Ahmed to explain Managing Director Christine Lagarde's statement the previous day that "If we hear solid partners on the ground say, aah, I am not too sure about this program, not too sure about the IMF, not too sure about borrowing, it is a bit of an issue."

  Now can we say, Lagarde's "solid partners" are Masood Ahmed's "those likely to be in the incoming government"? Can you say, Muslim Brotherhood?

  But elsewhere in the IMF's Spring Meeting there was stonewalling and conflicts of interest, hype photo-ops and needless security.

  After Masood Ahmed's press conference, a similar one was held about Asia and the Pacific. But in this, India's Anoop Singh jumped in to say that his own country's growth is "robust," even as contradicted by his less conflicted deputy Masahiko Takeda.

  In the UN system, generally one is not supposed to act or speak on one's own country. Does Anoop Singh have an exemption?

During the Asia and Pacific press conference, IMF spokesperson Keiko Utsunomiya was selective in how she allowed questions, and the questions asked were parochial, for example about banks in Cambodia (to which Anoop Singh replied that he'd gone to Ankor Wat).

No question at all was allowed about Myanmar, and no question about military spending in Sri Lanka.

  The Latin America and Caribbean press conference by Nicolas Eyzaguirre was better run, but still nothing was said about for example Haiti.

At the higher profile G20 press conference, it was mostly Christine Lagarde bragging about the $430 billion pledged -- without details -- and nothing about, for example, the G20's opposition to the Volcker Rule in the US.

There was event after event. On the IMF schedule screen came a notice of a meeting of Guinea Bissau official (pre or post coup, one wondered) and then of the "Macedonia Team Meeting." One wondered, and asked via Twitter, wasn't FYROM the term used in UN system?

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon came to the World Bank Friday morning; there was a photo op before his meeting with Lagarde, Robert Zoellick and finance minister about Rio +20. Inner City Press there, as was Bob Orr, as Bank watchers said how Zoellick always has a Diet Coke (like Ban and his covered glass of water).

  Making-of video on Inner City Press YouTube, click here.

Later Inner City Press heard that Ban had urged another DC audience to Tweet at Barack Obama urging his to go to Rio +20. Inner City Press asked the question at the State Department briefing, including why Tim Geithner hadn't bothered to attend the Rio meeting of finance minister, but was referred to the White House.

At 5 pm on Friday a protest march came by the IMF, just as a Syria meeting began up in the UN Security Council. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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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