Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Follow us on TWITTER

Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Slammed for Bias by Darfur Rebels, Deferred Answer About Rebel UN Selected

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 -- Questions about the UN in Sudan focus not only on the dubious quality of electoral technical assistance, but also impartiality. Most recently the Justice and Equality Movement has criticized the UN's handpicking of representatives of internally displaced people, arguing that the selections are intended to make Omar Al Bashir look good.

   The UN feigns surprise, and then offers vague denials. From the April 14 noon briefing transcript:

Inner City Press: on Sudan, the Justice and Equality Movement [JEM] has raised concerns about the way in which UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] and the Joint Mediator [for Darfur], Mr. [Djibril] Bassolé, are selecting IDP representatives for the Doha process. They are saying, I guess according to them, that the selection is untransparent and is being done in a way that is pro-Government and slated to make things look better than they are in Darfur. I wanted to know… and you can read it; it is by Ahmed Hussein, the spokesman of JEM. What I am wondering is what is the UN, UNAMID, and Mr. Bassolé’s criteria for selecting IDP representatives? And I also wanted to just follow up of yesterday’s -- how do we get questions answered by Mr. Bassolé, including his recruitment of a seeming UN staff member to be a representative in the Doha process?

UN's Ban and Bassole, recruitment of IDP and "rebel" leaders not shown

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, Mr. Bassolé’s office has informed us of the following: Dr. Al-Tijani Al-Sissi [Ateem] is a former employee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). He has never been employed by any UN entity headed by the Joint Chief Mediator. He is taking part in the negotiations now in his personal capacity and no longer has any institutional links to the United Nations. The Mediator is aware that Dr. Tijani was a UN staff member and that he has resigned. That is what I have for you from Mr. Bassolé’s office.

[The Spokesperson later added that UNAMID has taken note of the criticism from JEM and believes that its approach to civil society selection is methodical and well thought out.]

Inner City Press: The reason it would be good to be in touch with that office is that ECA has said that in February of this year, that when he travelled to Doha, he was still an ECA staff member. He was invited by the Joint Mediator. So the question really is, in what capacity was he invited? Was he already invited as a participant in the talks reportedly representing the Fur people, or was he invited as a UN staff member? And if he was invited as a participant, how does it square with the UN staff rules, because he did not stop getting paid until March? Who paid for his travel?

Spokesperson: Matthew, you asked me that question after the briefing yesterday, and you also asked Nick Birnback the same question, and both of us have said we will find out and give you the information. If I had had it to give to you now, I would have given it to you. What I have given is what I have.

And so we'll wait for more. Watch this site.

* * *

As Sudan Vote Marred by Technical Snafus, UN Assistance Questioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED 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.

  When opposition 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 say.

  On 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."

  Shouldn't the UN, 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

  At the April 13 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press pursued the issue:

Inner 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?

Spokesperson 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.

As 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.

So 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.

Inner 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…

Spokesperson: 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.

  The "materials 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 Spokesman Nesirky:

Inner City Press: does the Joint Mediator [for Darfur], Djibril Bassolé… 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?

Spokesperson: Let me find out.

The question has also been put to the spokesman for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. 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.

* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -