Sudan Vote Marred by Technical Snafus, UN Assistance Questioned
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 13 -- With even the Sudanese government admitting
widespread "technical" problems with its elections,
questioning turned Tuesday to the value and quality of the UN's
"technical assistance" to Sudan for its polling.
parties said that the ballots were being misprinted by the
government, the UN declined to take a position, saying that the UN's
role was technical and logistical, not to be observers. When the
European Union observers left Darfur as unsafe, the UN had little to
April 12, Inner
City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon if the UN thought
polling should be extended in light of the snafus. Mr. Ban replied
that "the United Nations has been providing technical assistance
and logistical support."
then, have to respond to have logistically ballots weren't delivers,
and technically, ballots were misprinted, with wrong names and wrong
party symbols? What kind of technical assistance is this?
UN's Ban and Sudan's Bashir, technical assistance not shown
April 13 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press pursued
City Press: now that the Sudanese Government has acknowledged some
technical problems with the election and has extended the voting… I
remember, I went to a background briefing here where it was said that
the UN was providing technical assistance. I understand that the UN,
because it is providing technical assistance, is not observing the
election or commenting on its fairness. But what does it say about
the UN’s technical assistance that there are these wide-spread
technical problems with the election?
Nesirky: Well, it was not just at a background briefing that you
heard that the UN is providing technical assistance. I think that it
has been said many times from here. The UN welcomes the National
Election Commission's decision to extend the voting period. This
would allow the Commission to overcome the various technical
difficulties encountered in the first two days of the voting. And the
UN also hopes that, precisely because there is now this extension by
two days, it will enable more Sudanese voters to cast their vote,
especially in areas and constituencies where the technical errors
caused delays to the voting process or where voters have been unable
to determine which polling centre they are registered in.
we have said, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is providing technical
assistance and logistical support to the National Election
Commission, upon request from the Commission, and will continue to do
so, within the Mission’s capability. And I think that is an
important point -- within the capability of the Mission. This is in
order to assist the Commission in coping with the remaining technical
problems and the logistical challenges.
this is, precisely, providing assistance. It is down to the
Commission, if you like, the National Election Commission, to
deliver. The UN Mission in Sudan has been providing technical and
logistical support to allow the Commission to deliver. Clearly,
there have been huge challenges, which we have talked about here and
have been talked about a lot obviously in Sudan, too.
City Press: One thing I want to understand is this usage of
technical problems, technical assistance. It seems like one of the
problems is like ballots that have the wrong names on them, ballots
that have the wrong party symbol attached to names. I am just sort
of wondering: what did the UN’s technical assistance consist of? Were
they supposed to look at these ballots that were going to be
mass distributed to make sure that they did not have the wrong party
affiliations next to the names? What was the technical assistance?
If these problems took place, I am struggling to understand what…
There were all kinds of layers of assistance that was provided. But
I think that the most important point here is that the assistance is
provided to the Commission, and it is the Commission that then
delivers. It is not for the UN to scrutinize every individual ballot
slip in advance of them being distributed, for example. It is
providing the technical know-how -- how do you conduct an election,
how do you put in place the materials that are required.
that are required" were not, in fact, in place. Some see the
UN, at least its peacekeeping missions run by the Secretariat, as too
close to the government. This sense is multiplied by the UN having
paid a salary to pro government rebel leader Al-Tijani Al-Sissi
Ateem, and then refusing to answer basic questions. On this, Inner
City Press asked
City Press: does the Joint Mediator [for Darfur], Djibril
is he paid by the UN and who speaks for him? Does he have a separate
spokesperson or are you, in a sense, his spokesperson? Or is DPKO
[Department of Peacekeeping Operations] his spokesperson? To whom
would I direct questions to Mr. Bassolé in his UN capacity?
Let me find out.
also been put to the spokesman for the Department of Peacekeeping
Operations. Watch this site.
* * *
UN Paid Darfur
Rebel Leader Ateem, UN Claims It Didn't Know What
Bassole Did: Scandal Grows
Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
NATIONS, April 9 -- In September 2009, a conference about Darfur was
convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by the joint United Nations -
African Union mediator, Djibrill Bassole.
The goals included uniting
various Darfur rebel groups under one umbrella to negotiate with Omar
al-Bashir's National Congress Party, and replacing the leader of the
Fur ethnic group and Sudan Liberation Movement/Army, Abdul Wahid
Mohamed al Nur who refused to negotiate until his Fur people were not
threatened with violence.
alternative Fur leader emerged, offering to stand in for Wahid al Nur
and to lead
the umbrella group and make peace with al-Bashir:
El-Tigani El-Sissi Ateem (sometimes written "Al-Tijani
Bassole embraced Al-Tijani Al-Sissi
Ateem. But Al-Tijani Al-Sissi Ateem was at that time, and had been
since 2005, a paid UN staff member, of the UN Economic Commission for
Africa also based in Addis Ababa.
the run up to
Sudan elections, sources told Inner City Press that compliant Darfur
rebel leader Eltijani Elsissi Ateem was paid by the UN from 2005
through March 8, 2010. Inner City Press asked and wrote an
exclusive story on March 28; UN
staff say that Bassole was asked.
On April 8,
Sudan's Ambassador to
the UN told Inner City Press that Eltijani is a "long time
Darfur leader" who, as a convenient replacement for Fur leader
Abdul Wahid Nur signed a deal with Omar al-Bashir's National Congress
Party. Video here.
work while being paid by the UN, in violation of UN staff rules. Some
now question the UN's role in replacing one Fur leader with another,
paid by the UN.
Al-Sissi (at right) and Bashir's
representative Ghazi, UN funding of Al-Sissi not shown
UN in New
York has so far sought to dodge all of these questions. Twice Inner
Press has asked in UN noon briefings in New York, then in writing,
but was referred to the UN Economic Council for Africa in Addis
Ababa, the UN unit which employed Eltijani.
both the UNECA
and the UN in New York, Inner City Press posed these questions:
were El-Sissi’s official job responsibilities for the UN system?
the UN aware that El-Sissi was a member of the Umma Party?
his travel to Doha, Qatar in February funded by the UN? Was he on
official business, or annual leave at this time?
the activities of the “Addis Ababa Roadmap group” supported,
facilitated, or participated in by the UN?
any meetings of the “Addis Ababa Roadmap group” take place on UN
questions: To what extent did or does UNECA have responsibilities
relating to the unification of the Darfur armed groups and
development of a common position and a common negotiating team or the
contribution in the development of a road map for the resolution of
the Darfur conflict?
the Head of UNECA aware of Mr. El-Sissi’s activities in the Darfur
process while he was employed by the UN? How long was El-Tijani
El-Sissi employed by the UN?
proferring only a single sentence, that ""ECA is not aware
of its staff members activities outside of work, including Mr.
Ateem's," this was received
Re: Questions on deadline
From: Mdessables [at] uneca.org
Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 7:44 AM
To: Inner City Press, Matthew Russell
Cc: S-G's Spokesperson, Deputy and Associate Spokespeople
Eltigani Ateem started working for ECA on 10 February 2005 as
Regional Advisor. Regional Advisory Services are made available upon
request to Members states, sub-regional and continental organizations
on socio-economic and political challenges.
his capacity as Regional Advisor, Mr. Ateem, upon request of the Head
of State of Libya, then Chair of the African Union (AU), to ECA's
Executive Secretary, was asked to serve as resource person and help
support the joint AU-UN efforts in addressing the Darfur conflict. As
part of this process, Mr. Ateem traveled to Doha, Qatar in February
2010. This travel was not funded by ECA.
initiative followed earlier involvement of Mr. Ateem who, at the
request of the World Bank, served as a member of the Advisory Panel
on Darfur Joint Assessment Mission in 2006.
did not support, facilitate or participate in the activities of the
“Addis Roadmap Group” and no meeting of the “Addis Roadmap
Group” took place on ECA premises.
is not aware of Mr. Ateem’s political affiliations.
has no responsibility related to the Darfur Negotiations.
Chief Information and Communication Service
Economic Commission for Africa
UN source, when
told of the response that Mr. Al-Sissi's political affiliations were
unknown, burst out laughing. At the April 9 UN noon briefing in New
York, Inner City Press asked Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq which UN
units were involved in work to unify the Darfur rebels: the
Department of Peackeeping Operations under Alain Leroy, the
Department of Political Affairs under Lynn Pascoe, or other UN units,
that to do political work while paid by the UN violates staff rules.
But he said he would have to check which UN units were involved.
There is no question that Bassole's UN-funded unit was involved. That
Bassole was asked about Al-Sissi's status only confirms it.
UN's Ban and Bassole, funding of pro-government
rebel not shown
office is funded by the UN is demonstrated in para 6 of A/63/717
(dated 17 Feb 2009; "Budget for the African Union-United Nations
Hybrid Operation in Darfur for the period from 1 July 2009to 30 June
Joint Mediation Support Team is supported by UNAMID. The Joint
Chief Mediator, who is the head of the Team, reports
to the Secretary-General through the Under-Secretary-General
for Peacekeeping Operations and to the Chairperson of
the African Union Commission through the Commissioner for Peace
and Security. The Joint Chief Mediator liaises closely with the
Joint Special Representative for UNAMID, the Special
Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan and Head of
the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and other
relevant stakeholders. The Joint
Chief Mediator is entrusted with leading the mediation efforts
between the parties to the Darfur conflict with a view to bringing
them to peace
The Chart on page 82 of this
document (A/63/717) shows that under Bassole, he has 39 positions
located in Addis, including 1 D-2, and 1 D-1. One wonders how
Mr Ateem fits into this.
Also, S/2010/151 (Letter dated
23 March 2010 from the Permanent Representative of the Sudan to the
United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council),
dated 24 March 2010. It includes a photocopy of the signed Doha
agreement, which includes
Ateem's signature. Interestingly, he uses yet a different
version and spelling of his name: "Dr. Tejani Sisei Mohammed
Para 30 of the SG's Report on the United
Nations Mission in Sudan (S/2009/357; 14 July 2009) said
African Union-United Nations Joint Chief Mediator, Djibrill
met with the Tripoli Group (comprised of five rebel movements) in
Sirte, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, from 28 to 30 June to discuss the
possible participation of the Group in the Doha negotiations. The
mediation also held broad consultations in Darfur, Khartoum and
Tripoli with representatives from Sudanese civil society,
non-governmental organizations and tribal leadership to underline the
intention to broaden participation in the Darfur peace process.
Paras 69, 71 of the SG's Report
on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur
(S/2010/50; 29 January 2010) stated
political process gains momentum, and in order to build on
the significant work of the Joint Chief Mediator, Djibrill Bassolé, to
increase engagement among the parties to the conflict, I urge all
parties to cease armed confrontation and engage in a meaningful
way in substantive, inclusive discussions.
the context of the political process, it is critical that the
national elections scheduled
for April 2010 provide an opportunity for all Darfurians,
displaced persons, to participate fully and completely unhindered.
already said he wants to leave his UN post. But that will not resolve
the matter. Who knew what, when? Beyond the questions pending with
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's Office, Inner City
Press has asked UNECA:
You say that Mr Ateem's travel to Doha in February 2010 was not
funded by the UN. Who funded it? Were Mr Ateem's salary and
benefits during his tenure as a UN employee from February 2005 to
March 2010 funded by the UN, and if not, by whom?
Who was Mr. Ateem's reporting officer, viz to whom within ECA was he
Is ECA responsible for or does it take any credit for unification of
the Darfur armed groups and development of a common position and a
common negotiating team, or contributing to the development of a
road map for the resolution of the Darfur conflict, or are these
tasks which UNECA has nothing to do with?
awaiting answers, and accountability, note that the UN is now doing
all it can to dodge from the fact that for five years its Addis
office employed as a staff member a former governor of Darfur who is
also a significant figure in Sudan's Umma party. This
individual, Mr. Eltigani Ateem, who while serving as a UN staff
member in the "NEPAD and Regional Integration Division" of
the Addis-based UN Economic Commission of Africa, was assigned
official responsibility for promoting the unification of Darfur armed
groups and for developing a Darfur Road Map.
significant questions about the staff selection and assignment
practices of the UN, which we've seen before. Is it appropriate
for a former [and current] national political figure to be assigned
work directly related to his own country? Ibrahim Gambari, the
UN's new envoy to Darfur who confirmed to Inner City Press that
Al-Sissi worked for ECA, fell under fire for taking a leave to
attempt to mediate disputes in the Niger Delta of his native Nigeria.
But Al-Sissi was getting paid by the UN while moonlighting as a rebel
leader in his native Sudan.
For their part, the UN is
employing normal avoidance tactics in response to Inner City Press'
questions. First, the SG's assistant spokespersons refused to
even accept numerous questions, deferring to UNECA's media shop.
After a time, UNECA finally responded, denying not only knowledge of
Mr Ateem's political baggage, but also that UNECA had any role in
supporting the "unification of armed groups" or the "road
Unfortunately for the
evasion does not square with the facts. "Subprogram 4"
of UNECA's own "results" framework reflects the following
2: Development of a set of policy recommendations for post
conflict reconstruction and development in areas and countries
emerging from conflict, with particular emphasis on Darfur; Unification
of the Darfur armed
groups and development of a common position and a common negotiating
team; Contribution in the development of a road map for the
resolution of the Darfur conflict.
2007 Mr. Ateem, in
his UNECA capacity, presented a paper at a conference in the UK
Root Causes of Conflicts in Sudan and the Making of the Darfur
Tragedy." This paper clearly identifies Ateem as
working for the NEPAD & Regional Integration Division. One
telling excerpt from the paper states that
the DPA was partially signed by one faction of the SLM in May 2005,
some neighbouring countries introduced further polarisation within
the rebel movements, something that has seriously jeopardized the
AU/UN-led efforts to resuscitate the peace talks with the
However, just two years later, at
in late 2009 talks in Doha, Mr. Ateem expressed his qualified
interest in becoming the leader of a unified Darfur rebel
ready to lead
the new movement if all of you commit yourself to a real and strong
unity." The UN's Mr. Ateem finally got his wish in
February 2010, UN/AU Mediator Djibril Bassole proudly (and rather
strangely) announced Mr. Ateem's leadership of a unified
that this should "pave
the way for holding constructive dialogue and setting frameworks for
detailed negotiations that would lead to reaching a peace accord."
has already said he wants to leave his UN post. But that will not
resolve the matter. Who knew what, when? Watch this site.
* * *