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Press to Expose UN's Scandals, African Union's Konare Says, As EC Inquires into Lockheed Deals

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

UNITED NATIONS, March 10 -- "The press is doing its work, to denounce the scandals," African Union chairman Alpha Oumar Konare intoned Monday, speaking beside UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about development in Africa. Inner City Press asked if the African Union was satisfied with the way the UN chooses the beneficiaries of its multi-million dollar peacekeeping contracts in Africa, in light of recent exposure of no-bid contracts to Lockheed Martin and Request for Proposals tweaking for France. In response, Chairman Konare called for "good governance and transparency, because states are looking at this with particular attention today." Video here, from Minute 43:47. 

            This attention was made clear following the press conference, when European Commissioner Louis Michel sought out Inner City Press to note that the UN's contracting process is the subject of pending questions in the European Parliament. "You are right," he said, "there is a problem." He added, by contrast to the UN's December 31, 2007 no-bid $12 million contract with Lockheed Martin to feed the peacekeepers in Darfur that the European Union buys locally. "There will be a debate on this," he said.

            Under the heading "Concern over cases of corruption at the United Nations," Spain's Emilio Menendez del Valle in Written Question E-0342/08 has asked "why it is worrying to learn (though also encouraging, since the problem is being confronted) that the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS)" is "currently investigating, at the request of the General Assembly, a matter of special interest to the European Union... the award, without a tender procedure, of a USD 250 million contract to the US company Lockheed Martin to construct five bases in that region."  He asks," is the Council not concerned at the course of events described above?" According to Louis Michel, the answer is yes: concern is growing.

Alpha Oumar Konare on March 10, 2008, Press should expose UN scandals

            Ironically, Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson tried to cut off the question about the UN's own spending in Africa, saying that it did not relate to development. Not only did Chairman Konare respond with a three minute response congratulating the press for exposing the scandal, also Mr. Ban raised his hand to offer the UN's perspective on the procurement and transparency issued. But Mr. Ban was not called on. Next time, then. Earlier, Mr. Ban spoke about the New Communities Movement in South Korea, about which he said Rwanda's president Paul Kagame was reading. There are further documents about the MDGs meeting which are being read and digested and soon will be reported on. 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

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