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UK Contradictions on Somaliland & Falklands, Mistranscribing on Table

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 6 -- While the UK now takes the lead on Somalia, getting Nicholas Kay appointed UN envoy and chairing today's Security Council debate about the country, it does not seem to take seriously the arguments for independence of Somaliland, as well as Puntland and Jubaland. Click here and here for previous Inner City Press stories on this.

  Meanwhile, in the midst of the Somalia debate in the Security Council, UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant re-tweeted about the right of self-determination of people in the Falkland Islands. What about self-determination in Hargeisa?

  There are questions, too, about the UN system handing Somaliland's airspace to Mogadishu, and the role of a UK DFID funded airline. A journalist in the region got the run-around from UN OCHA (the type of UN systemwide stonewalling the Free UN Coalition for Access is trying to counter-act) and requested that this be asked:

Is it true, USAID and DIFD yearly cover overall expenses incurring UNHAS running cost in Somalia? If yes, why UNDP staff paid expenses on flight and persuaded to use UNHAS instead of EU chartered airlines which is free?"

The answer provided by a "UN spokesperson in Somalia" was this:

Following notification by authorities in Somaliland, all UN flights to and from Somaliland have been suspended with effect from yesterday at 6pm. The United Nations and its agencies are taking this transportation issue seriously and are in discussions with the relevant authorities to bring about a resolution as quickly as possible. There has been no impact on ongoing UN programmes and it is our priority to ensure no interruption of support or activities. The UN welcomes the ongoing efforts to resolve this quickly.

If that were the focus, why hand over the airspace? Here's what Lyall Grant said on Thursday:

"One of the very important roles that needs to take place in parallel with the security and stability aspect is the formulation and agreement of the constitutional relationship that will exist between the Federal Government of Somalia and some of the Somali regions, so Somaliland, Puntland and Jubaland and other regions. And one of the important roles that the Federal government of Somalia and the representatives of those regions have in the immediate future is to begin the process of dialogue to make sure that a constitutional settlement can be reached."

  What was that again, about self-determination?

  As we've inquired into May 21 and reported on since, one or more times a day, the UK is presiding over the roll-back in (new) media access to the Security Council from what existed not only during the Council's renovation relocation but also before it.

  When Inner City Press for FUNCA asked UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant if he supported continued media workspace at the Council and if so what he would do about it, Lyall Grant said this is a matter for the UN Department of Public Information and "the journalists" -- it's becoming clear which journalists. See UK Mission "World Press Freedom Day" video, here.

Even the UK's transcript of Lyall Grant's press conference mis-represents the questions. It's always easier to dodge a question other than the one asked. Compare UN web cast video here, from Minute 17:32, to this (mis) transcription:

"media work table used to be in front of Security Council has been moved. Do you think that there should be one so reporters can stay throughout consultations so reporters can speak with people going in and out? What will you do if you think it should be replaced?"

Actually said, or asked was if Lyall Grant and UK believe that the media access and press worktable should to maintained, and "I you believe that, what will you do to make sure it takes place?"

The question was not about the table being "replaced." There's more. We are, as noted, experimenting. Watch this site.

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