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As UN Security Council Visits Liberia, Why was Titov Rejected as Envoy?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 19 -- The UN Security Council arrived Saturday in Liberia to meet with the government of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Among the back-stories was the unsuccessful attempt by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to place one of his most senior Russian officials, Dmitry Titov, as his Special Representative for UNMIL.

  Numerous UN sources have told Inner City Press that the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf rejected Titov. But why?

  Some say that Titov can be hard to get along with. There is some basis: for example, when Inner City Press previously noted Titov moving through the UN with Foreign Minister Lavrov, the response was, "You'd never say that about a European." Things are clearer since then: such reporting goes both East and West.

   In any event there are several accepted SRSGs who are ornery. Others, including at least one Security Council member, say that there is some "Russian Mafia" action in Liberia and that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf believed that Titov, now in charge of "Rule of Law" at the UN, would inquire into it.

  Despite substantial from the UN and the US, which co-leads this leg of the trip with Morocco, for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, there are numerous questions. As simply one example, she appointed her own son, Robert Sirleaf, as Chairman of the Board of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).

  The UK, which will co-lead the Sierra Leone leg of the trip, provided a read out of "Excellent meeting with Johnson Sirleaf and her ministers. Issues of UNMIL transition; reconciliation; justice; security.... and ECOWAS discussed."

  There have also been a series of issues about the UN's own UNMIL mission, from staff complaints, sexual abuse and UN double-talk about how frequent flier miles are used.

  The Council will fly onward in its West Africa tour, the newsiest portion of which will be a meeting with ECOWAS in Abidjan which will concern not only Guinea Bissau, where ECOWAS proposes 12 months for coup leaders, but one would think Mali as well. Watch this site.

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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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