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On Syria, Post-Coup Fiji Sends Observers, UN Stonewalls, Araud Won't Speak

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 8 -- As envoy Kofi Annan briefed the UN Security Council about Syria on Tuesday, it remained unclear from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations how many observers, and from where, are in the country.

  Finland, which is running for a seat on the Security Council next year, sent two observers in the first deployment, and has spoken of eight more.

 At what seemed another campaign event across the street from the UN on Tuesday morning, the Institutional moderator said, "You are sending observers to Syria, I am not sure what my question is, but that is an interesting situation." Interesting, indeed.

  Even more interesting, in terms of Kofi Annan's time as UN Secretary General, is the inclusion of eight observers from Fiji. While he was S-G, Annan announced that no new deployments of Fijian peacekeepers would be accepted, given the coup d'etat in that country.

  Now with the coup leader Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama still in place, Fiji is sending eight observers to Kofi's (or, the Kofi-affiliated) mission in Syria. Inner City Press has asked his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi:

"beyond the [12 day old] budget questions, can you comment on the fact that when Mr. Annan was UN S-G he said DPKO should cease new deployments of Fijian peacekeepers in light of the coup, and now Fiji is sending observers on this mission to Syria, while still led by the coup leader?

"11 substantive international staff (1 USG, 2 ASG, 2 D-2, 2 P-5, 2 P-4, 2 P-3) -- are the two deputies the ASGs? Which of the other position have already been filled or designated, and by whom?

"Likewise, what (and how high) are the "extra-budgetary resources" for three Political Affairs Officers for six months, and a Senior Advisor for three months? Has the Senior Advisor been chosen? Who? And, the "refurbishment of office space ($30,000)" -- which office is this?"

We will report answers when received.

  On the way into the Security Council, the press asked Ambassadors Susan Rice of the US and Gerard Araud of France, as well as Herve Ladsous the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping, if they would speak after the briefing.

  Ladsous said, in French and then English, "We'll see." Then it was revealed that he will not speak.

  Ambassador Rice said, "Probably," although it the time overlaps with Annan's stakeout set for 5:30 pm Geneva time this may not happened.

  Araud, who was not seen at the Security Council's meeting on Guinea Bissau on May 7, the day after Nicolas Sarkozy and by implication foreign minister Alain Juppe were voted out of power, appeared on May 8 and said that he will not speak.

 Araud said, "We are in an electoral period in France, so I am awaiting my new authorities to arrive." Some are hoping that means a new Permanent Representative, including in the spirit of the Arab Spring. Watch this site.

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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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