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UN, With Office in Turkmenistan, Assesses One-Party Election But Won't Comment

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, December 15 -- The UN under Ban Ki-moon and his political advisor B. Lynn Pascoe opened a regional center in Turkmenistan. Over the weekend, as an election was held in the country in which 90% of the candidates all came from one party, the UN had three people in Turkmenistan in connection with the election. All hail, Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov!

    Inner City Press on Monday asked Ban's spokesperson Michele Montas if the UN thought that election had been free and fair.  Ultimately the answer was in writing:

Subj: Your question on Turkmenistan 
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Date: 12/15/2008 4:25:39 P.M. Eastern Standard Time  

In response to a request from the Government of Turkmenistan, the United Nations deployed a small technical assessment mission with a view to report to the Secretary-General on the parliamentary elections on 14 December 2008. It was not there to observe the elections, not will it be making public statements on the conduct of the electoral process.

  So how can it be called an assessment mission? What did it assess, and for whom? What is the least quantum of democracy which the UN will use to justify putting a center in a state rich in natural gas?

Voting in Turkmenistan, under a watchful eye, UN's 3 watch but no comment

For now, we tip our hat to and include this from it --

"Gulgeldy Annaniyazov was one of the dissident leaders known as the 'Ashgabat Eight.' He was imprisoned in 1995, after organizing a demonstration in support of democratic reform in Ashgabat. The severe conditions in Turkmen prisons took their toll on the prisoners. In 1998, a fellow prisoner reported that Annaniazov's condition had deteriorated dramatically, and he could barely walk or speak. One of his co-defendants, Charymurat Gurov, died in prison, apparently as a result of torture.

"Annaniazov was released under a presidential amnesty decree in January 1999. Following his release, Annaniazov fled to Kazakhstan but was arrested when trying to cross the border into Russia. In the face of intense international pressure, Kazakhstan did not extradite "Annaniazov, who was granted refugee status and resettled in Norway in 2002. He was living in Norway with refugee status until his return to Turkmenistan in June 2008. "According to Annaniazov's own statement, he returned to Turkmenistan in order to 'help his fatherland to improve its education and public health systems.'

Three men, presumed to be security service agents, entered his parent's home on 24 June 2008 and arrested him, without presenting a warrant or giving any reasons for his arrest. They refused to tell Annaniazov's family where he would be detained. The arrest took place at the same time as the EU-Turkmenistan human rights dialogue was conducted."

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

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

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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