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At UN, US Susan Rice Confirms Stealth Myanmar Briefing, Speaks on Sudan Sit-Reps, Darfur Mission "Impediments"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 2 -- While military ruled Myanmar was on the November agenda of the UN Security Council, albeit in a footnote, it was removed from the agenda for December, during which the United States has the Council Presidency.

  Early on December 2, Inner City Press was told that China had opposed the inclusion of Myanmar in the Program of Work, even as a footnote. It was agreed that, without giving the session a name, UN envoy Vijay Nambiar will brief the Council on his Thanksgiving weekend visit to the country on the afternoon of December 6, under “Any Other Business,” the Council's catch-all phrase.

  When US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice came to brief the press on the month's agenda at 1 pm, the Program of Work distributed to journalist had in the footnotes between “Non-proliferation” and Somalia a blank spot, the length of the word “Myanmar.”

  But on December 6, the Program listed only the tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice along with questions on Sudan to confirm that there would in fact be a briefing on December 6, and whether the obviously deleted footnote had been Myanmar.

  Ambassador Rice said that yes, Mister Nambiar will brief on December 6, and said that her copy of the Program of Work reflected that. She did not explain the missing footnote. Q&A here, from Minute 16:04.

  Still she was more responsive than many in the press corps had expected. When her briefing was scheduled for 11:30, some UN correspondents speculated that it was so that no or few questions could be taken before the UN noon briefing.

As it turned out, Rice and the rest of the Council remained in session until 12:30, meeting “in real time” as one of them put it to Inner City Press on the crisis in Ivory Coast.

  (On that, Inner City Press is told that the chairman of the elections commission contacted the US and France to ask for protection to get to the airport. When Inner City Press asked UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq about this, and why there seemed to be doubts not only about the chairman's safety but also about UNOCI, Haq said he would not answer.)

  In Rice's briefing, Inner City Press asked about recent incidents in Sudan: the killing of students by the Sudanese authorities in South Darfur in connection with a meeting with joint UN mediator Bassole, and Khartoum's bombing of Northern Bahr al Ghazal state in South Sudan, which even UNMIS confirmed.

  Rice said that all Council members get “sit-reps” from the UN, and can ask for more information. Inner City Press followed up, does UNAMID in Darfur under Ibrahim Gambari do enough to verify reports of attacks?

Susan Rice where she'll be this month: stakeout. Results to be seen

  Rice answered diplomatically that since UNAMID is one of the largest UN missions and has protection of civilians in its mandate, she has to assume that when UNAMID doesn't go and check, there is some other impediment.

   But would such impediments be Sudanese government prohibitions, or Gambari's proclivities?

Footnote: The Wikileaks scandals had to be asked about, and were. But they were initially asked about in a way that certainly pleased, if not was negotiated by, some surmised, the US Mission: did the leak hurt Ambassador Rice's work? To the same questioner, she said that she will go to the correspondents' association's dinner and fundraiser, but there better be good music. We'll see.

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In Cote d'Ivoire, Elections Official Asks US & France for UN Protection, UN Slow

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 2, 11:40 am, updated 12:40 -- The head of the elections commision in Cote d'Ivoire was holed up in a hotel room, sending messages to France and the US that if the UN Mission ONUCI would provide protection to get to the airport, he would release the elections results and then fly to Paris.

This was being discussed inside the UN Security Council as noon approached on Thursday. UN envoy Choi demanded to know why the request for help was being directed to France and the US and not to him.

Inner City Press asked a Council source why Choi himself doesn't release the results he has. “He hasn't finished counting,” was the answer. So Choi and ONUCI are slower than the electoral commission?

UN's Ban & Choi, cut out of communications and slow on count

It was announced at the UN that new Council President Susan Rice would read a statement after consultations. Watch this site.

Update of 12:40 pm -- after publication of the above, the chairman of the electoral commission Youssouf Bakoyoko announced that Alassane Ouattara won the run off. It is emphasized, as a matter of courage, that he did so AFTER the Gbagbo dominated Constitutional Council had declared that his time was up. While some at the UN analogize what is to come to the Bush v. Gore case of 2000, others say that's a stretch. Ambassador -- this month, President -- Susan Rice read a statement and said she will take quesitons at her 1 pm press conference on the month's program of work. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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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