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Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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On Somalia, As UN Dodges on Mahiga Meeting in Kenya, Calls for Firing

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- On April 6 Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to respond to criticism from Somalia of Ban's envoy Augustine Mahiga scheduling a consultative meeting on Somalia this month not in that country, but in Nairobi, Kenya:

Inner City Press: on Somalia, there is quite a lot of protest within the country about a supposed consultative meeting that Mr. Mahiga is organizing in Kenya and there have been calls to boycott it. The Government has also asked that the UN move its offices to Mogadishu. So, what’s the UN’s response to these two critiques, both from clan leaders and from the TFG?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, Mr. Mahiga extended this invitation to various parties there to take part in some discussions and we are aware of the report or the reports that you refer to about the presence of UN offices in Somalia; we’re aware of that report. I don’t have anything further on that at the moment, simply to say that the people who work for those offices are regular visitors to Mogadishu. Indeed Mr. Mahiga was briefing the Secretary-General last week when we were in Nairobi, within hours of having just returned from Mogadishu.

On April 7 Nesirky read out a statement that Mahiga will proceeding with the meeting in Nairobi, and has gotten many commitments to attend, summarized by the UN in this way:

Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, said today that the High Level Consultative Meeting will take place as scheduled on the 12 and 13 April in Nairobi. He said that he has received positive responses to the conference from Somali parties and officials who are willing to participate in strengthening the dialogue between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its partners.

What Nesirky, who more and more limits questions at his noon briefing while refusing to answer the vast majority of e-mailed Press questions, did not mention is that the Somali Transitional Federal Government's prime minister himself has opposed the Kenya location, and has gotten Raila Odinga's support on this:

The Kenyan government will back efforts by the Somalia Transition Federal Government (TFG) to host an impending high-level peace meeting to resolve the crisis in the strife-torn country. Prime Minister Raila Odinga assured his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi the government would back their bid to convince the United Nations and the African Union to hold the peace meeting in Mogadishu.”

Ban and Mahiga in Naibori, protests from Somalia not shown or answered

  Now, a major Somali cleric -- Sheikh Ahmed Abdi Dhi’isow, the chairman of the Somali religious assembly -- has asked for Ban Ki-moon to fire Mahiga:

'Mahiga disregarded all of our requests and suggestions and he continued organizing the meeting in an attempt to divide Somalis, so we are calling on the U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon to dismiss Augustine Mahiga from United Nations Political Office for Somalia,' he said.”

What do Ban and Nesirky say to that? The UN of late has been bragging about "its" Djibouti process. And it's come to thise? Watch this site.

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On Haiti, Amid UN Diplomatic Fatigue, of Restavek & Mulet, Cholera Silence

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 6 -- The Haiti debate of the UN Security Council started with a bang on Wednesday morning, with Presidents Santos and Preval of Colombia and Haiti and former US President Bill Clinton. By afternoon the room was half full and even most of the Security Council Permanent Representatives had left. Beyond donor fatigue, this can be called diplomatic fatigue.

Bill Clinton breezed in at 10:25 am, missing most of President Santos' speech. When it was his turn, Clinton bragged about a transparent donor website and, to his credit, about restavek: the phenomenon of rural and undocumented children exploited by more affluent urban families.

Inner City Press has previously asked Clinton about the restavek phenomenon. One now wonders what the UN has done about it, given all the time it's been in Haiti.

There was little discussion of the cholera outbreak and how it was brought to Haiti. The UN's report on the topic, initially due in late March, was not released prior to the Council's Haiti debate.

   Clinton, Preval and Santos did what they called a media stakeout, but didn't take any questions. Off camera, asked about the meeting of Santos and President Obama, Clinton said "I think you'll like the results." Another free trade agreement, to folow Clinton's NAFTA.

Colombia's Permanent Representative Nestor Osorio acknowledged to Inner City Press that the regional group GRULAC wants a Latin to replace UN envoy Edmond Mulet when he leaves, and that seemingly for that reason, Bernard Kouchner of France is no longer a candidate.

Inner City Press asked Mulet on his way into the Council in the afternoon when he will be back in New York with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. “June,” he said. It is confirmed that the number two post in DPKO is Mulet's; Atul Khare of India was only filling it temporarily.

Clinton, Preval and Santos, no questions taken, cholera report not shown

Some wonder where Khare will go, or what other post India will get. But as Inner City Press reported, the Assistant Secretary General post in UN Women went to India. A UN source said of Khare, “He wasn't really one of theirs.”

France's Permanent Representative Gerard Araud was not in the Council chamber in the afternoon. Another UN source said Araud was briefing select press about France's actions in Cote d'Ivoire. Plus ca change.

Footnote, literally: Colombia's intrepid spokeswoman, on the eve of her country's long planned Haiti debate, was hit by a diplomatic car but nevertheless appeared for work on Wednesday, with a cane. Asked from which country the car that hit her came, she said “Turkey.” Watch this site.

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At UN, April's Council President Says Kouchner's Haiti Bid Is Over, Bahrain Qs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 3 -- Relations with regional groupings were the topic April4 when Colombia's Ambassador Nestor Osorio met on the record with the press about his presidency this month of the UN Security Council.

Inner City Press asked Osorio to confirm that the GRULAC grouping of Latin American countries had blocked the candidacy of France's Bernard Kouchner to head the UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH.

Kouchner is no longer a candidate, Osorio said diplomatically. Pressed, he said that there is a preference among Latin countries that the successor for Guatemalan Edmond Mulet atop MINUSTAH be a Latin American.

In this, Osorio was willing to express a regional position. But when Inner City Press asked him about his relations with others in GRULAC, particularly in the leftist Grupo ALBA. Osorio said that he gets his instructions only from his capital, Bogota.

This varies, for example, from Lebanon's role for the Arab Group, and the Council's African members' actions to raise African Union positions. Grupo Alba sources say their ambassadors went to meet with outgoing Council president Li Baodong of China on the past day of his presidency. How will they interact with Osorio?

Osorio & Ban Ki-moon, oversight not shown

  Asked about Bahrain, Osorio explained the Council not getting involved by saying that the regional group -- the GCC -- did not favor UN involvement. (Inner City Press has reported exclusively on Saudi Arabia telling Secretary General Ban Ki-moon NOT to send Oscar Fernandez-Taranco as an envoy to Bahrain, which Ban's spokesman Nesirky would not deny on Monday.)

  Osorio was asked about the wisdom of deferring to the GCC, which has Saudi and UAE troops in Bahrain, on what should be done there. He did not have an answer. It was a chaotic and somewhat tense press conference, followed by muttering. And it is just the beginning on the month. We see to retain an open mind. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 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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