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As Ban Belatedly Speaks From Myanmar, It's Promise of UN Money, on Jazz Day

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 30 -- After the Myanmar silence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was blamed by his deputy spokesman on limited Burmese "infrastructure," belatedly a read-out of Ban's meetings with the Thein Sein government was issued.

  In it, Ban expresses his commitment to work with the Government including "UN technical assistance and help to mobilize financial support for Myanmar's first population and housing census in 2014."

  So who would pay? It's reported that

"in the two years leading up to the data-collection period, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will be assisting in surveyor training and drafting survey documents. UNFPA's country representative Mohamed Abdel-Ahad called it an especially steep challenge due to the amount of time elapsed since the last census...Abdel-Ahad said workers expect to carry out the census in April, 2014. The United Nations is expected to at least partially cover the estimated $53-million cost."

The Thein Sein government, even as it denies voting rights to and shoots at the Kachin, is being lavished with debt forgiveness and other funds. Still Ban's buying friendship, and nice quotes, with UN money. What's new?

[One thing's new on April 30 at the UN: Jazz Day, video here.]

From transcript of the UN noon briefing of April 30:

Inner City Press: Yesterday, the Secretary-General’s current trip in Myanmar, in trying to cover the trip from here, it was a limited number of journalists that could go and accompany him. But, there has been a total fall off in readouts, transcripts of Q and A or everything. When they were in India, we were getting like probably a dozen readouts and then, since he’s been in Myanmar, which is going on two going on three days. So what’s the problem with that?

Deputy Spokesperson: The major problem is that, in India, you have a technical infrastructure that is much more sophisticated than the one in Myanmar, and we have been working very hard to try and get the electronic correspondence going between Myanmar and here. So, whatever readouts are available should be available soon.

Inner City Press: I have seen some of the media, I guess, organizations that are traveling with him, having quotes from him at a dinner, just different things. So, obviously, they can get it out. And, I just wonder if you really want coverage of it. Was there some, it seems strange, like normally if he sits down with a preselected limited group of journalists, you send it [inaudible]…

Deputy Spokesperson: We will post, we will post these things when we can, Matthew.

Inner City Press: Okay, so, it is purely technical?

Deputy Spokesperson: Thank you very much.

We will still be covering this trip, despite this from Ban's Secretariat

"Thank you for your interest in participating in the Secretary-General's forthcoming visit to Myanmar. The response was overwhelming. Unfortunately we are unable to offer your organization a place at this time. Thank you again for your interest, and we hope you will have another opportunity to travel with the Secretary-General. As no official announcement has been made about this visit, we ask that you do not report on it until an official announcement has been made."

Done and done. Here's from Ban's April 23 Press encounter:

Inner City Press: At least one question on Myanmar? Aung San Suu Kyi says that there is a standoff between National League for Democracy (NLD) members and the military-created constitution. What is your view of that? Also, of the Kachin area where people were not allowed to vote in this most recent election - are you going to look at that while you are there?

S-G Ban Ki-moon: First of all, about the first part of your question. I sincerely hope that they will be able to find a mutually agreeable, harmonious way to have smooth proceedings of this Parliament. They have gone through very historic by-elections recently that was reflected by the will of the Myanmar people. I have taken note of what President Thein Sein said about this matter and I hope that they will be able to find a resolution on this issue harmoniously for the further democratization of their country.

On the second part of your question, I am encouraged by all of the recent movement in trying to reconcile with the ethnic groups, particularly with the Karen National Union. I hope that the same will be emulated by the Kachin group. All in all, it is important that Myanmar authorities reach out and reconcile with all the groups for their smooth transition towards a further and fuller democratization process. I will have many opportunities of discussing this matter, starting with President Thein Sein, to Aung San Suu Kyi, to speakers of Parliament. I will have another opportunity of engaging the ministers and economic and social-related leaders there. Thank you very much. Thank you.

We'll see, as much as possible or permitted. Watch this site.

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