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On Somalia, UN Opposes Fast Elections, At Ethiopia's Coming Out Party

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 5 -- Near the end of daylong Somalia debate in the UN Security Council, Kazakhstan for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation praised "the Ethiopian military offensive in central Somalia."

  Then Ethiopia's Permanent Representative took the floor at the final speaker and said his country's troops were welcomed in Baidoa. It was, one Permanent Representative said, a sort of coming out party, the UK following up the London Conference.

  UN envoy Augustine Mahiga criticized some "breakaway" Parliamentarians who want to move up the elections to April 30. To some it was strange: the UN elsewhere pushes for fast elections.

  The Presidential Statement was read out at the beginning of the session, before the speeches. But Horn of Africa countries, at least some of them, were consulted in advance.

  There was talk of a "Group of Friends of Somalia at the UN." A diplomat told Inner City Press that "everyone will be invited, except Eritrea and Israel." US Ambassador Susan Rice, meanwhile, was speaking at and tweeting from the AIPAC Synagogue Initiative Lunch.

  Finland spoke, its Permanent Representative stopping to tell Inner City Press there are 20,000 Somalis in his country.

  Earlier in the debate, piracy was the focus of most of the speakers. By contrast, South Africa and others wonder why there is not more focus on the land, and Somalis themselves.

  Japan, it emerges, has something of an anti-piracy base in Djibouti. Its Permanent Representative Tsuneo Nishida said, "in June last year, Japan established its own facility in Djibouti to accommodate its personnel and equipment, towards more effective conduct of these operations."

Indian Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri said he hopes that next time, the Council votes UN funding for the upkeeping of the Kenyan ships, speaking of efforts to

"sanitize the Somali coastline and deprive Al Shabaab of revenues earned from port facilities and export of charcoal. We hope that the Council will agree to include naval assets for CoE reimbursement when it considers the extension of AMISOM mandate later this year."

  As Inner City Press first reported, in closed door consultations there was resistance to the UN paying for the upkeep of four Kenya ships, with France described as the "main cheapskate." The US, for what it's worth, is said to have supported UN reimbursement for the upkeep of the Kenya ships.

  Later, Inner City Press asked Italy's Permanent Representative about the ongoing dispute between his country and India after Indian fishermen were mistaken as pirates and shot. The Italians are, India says, in "judicial custody."

  A UN official told Inner City Press, and Italy confirmed, that former UN official Staffan de Mistura is now in India working on it. One of these two sources said Mistura is offering compensation, trying to make the problem go away. Oh, pirates...

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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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