Slammed for Bias by Darfur Rebels, Deferred Answer About Rebel UN
Matthew Russell Lee
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:
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
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
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
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
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.]
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?
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.
so we'll wait
for more. Watch this site.
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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.
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