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As UN's Djinnit Oversees Coup and Famine in Niger, Voting Fraud in Guinea and Bissau Narco State, 4 Reporters Not Enough

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 13, updated Oct 21 & Nov 1, 2010 -- Amid military government and famine in Niger, an emerging narco state in Guinea Bissau and ever allegations of ballot box stuffing in Guinea, the UN's envoy to West Africa Said Djinnit told the Press on Tuesday that all is going well. In a belated stake out with four reporters, Djinnit sung the praises of his office, which is based in Senegal.

  Inner City Press asked about the allegation of elections fraud in Guinea, which have forced the postponement of the second round of voting from July 18 to August 1. Djinnit replied that “we were not surprised” by the irregularities.

  On the control of Niger by coup leaders, he said said this would end in March 2011, and praised the coup leaders for being more willing to work with the international community about the famine than the previous president had been.

  He dodged questions on Guinea Bissau, saying that the UN's direct envoy to that country would be speaking on the topic soon.

Djinnit's dodging began before he came to the stakeout. When he emerged from the Security Council at noon, he stood by the microphone, as if prepared to speak. But seeing only Inner City Press present -- as had been the case the previous afternoon for the Security Council Press Statement on the bombings in Uganda which the President had read out -- Djinnit walked away from the microphone. “Come back at 12:30,” Inner City Press was told.

  At 12:30, two other reporters appeared: one to ask about Guinea Bissau, the other a well known Nigerian correspondent who, along with Inner City Press, told Djinnit's seeming spokeswoman that he might was well take questions, since and and three reporters were present. The spokeswoman told the UN TV cameraman, if more reporters don't come, he won't speak.

  Bad idea, Inner City Press said, if Djinnit is still cashing the UN system's checks.

Djinnit with rose colored glasses, # of reporters not seen

 The Nigerian correspondent was more forceful. Our editors want stories, he told Djinnit, expressing outrage that he wouldn't speak. Djinnit remarked archly, you must be from a trade union background, and went to the microphone, where all three reporters asked questions.

Afterwards, Djinnit's seeming spokeswoman approached the reporters, hissing criticism of the Nigerian reporter's “tone of voice.” What's her name, the reporter asked Inner City Press. While the UN Office on West Africa's web site last updated its “News” in 2007, has not press releases from 2010, and no contact name on its last 2009 press release, according to actual spokespeople, it was a particular individual with the UN Department of Political Affairs. This was denied on October 21, 2010, on the margins of a press conference at which Mr. Djinnit provided a less than satisfactory update on actions against the Guinea mass rapists of September 2009. Now no one at the UN wants to say who it was: so much for accountability.

Footnote: Inner City Press' last interaction with Djinnit involved asking him to confirm that he had applied for a UN envoy job in Sudan. He smiled but would not answer. Apparently he didn't like the question, or subsequent article. It just gets worse and worse.

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In Wake of Uganda Bombing, UNSC Statement Does Not Assign Blame, Even After Al Shabab Takes Credit

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 12, updated -- A day after the Kampala double bombing which killed more than 60 people, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had yet to issue any kind of statement. In front of the Security Council on Monday morning, one non-permanent member's spokesperson wondered under what agenda item the Council might issue a statement: Somalia?

Another spokesperson said moves were afoot for the issuance of a press statement, later in the day. Would it say who is responsible? After the bombing of trains in Madrid, the Council issued a statement blaming it on ETA. When Al Qaeda later took responsibility, the Council's statement was never retracted.

Here, nearly all speakers including Uganda authorities are pointing the finger at Islamist Somali insurgents. They had vowed retaliation for the Ugandan and Burundian AMISOM peacekeepers' shelling of a market in Mogadishu. Others pointed out the targeting of "Ethiopian Village," given antagonism between irridentist Somalia and Ethiopia. Motive is certainly there-- and, the media pointed out, opportunity.

  As the draft text of the press statement was distributed to members, a Council diplomat told Inner City Press it did not assign blame, only the Council's "standard terrorist attack language." Might that change?

Update of 3:20 p.m. -- Nigeria's Ambassador, the Council's president for July, read out a four paragraph statement. As Inner City Press predicted this morning, it did not assign blame. But in the interim, the spokesman for Al Shabab has taken credit for the bombings, saying they were months in the planning.

  Inner City Press asked Nigeria's Ambassador on camera why blame was not ascribed, and if this might not discourage countries from sending peacekeepers to Somalia. She declined the first, and to the second question said “there is a peace to keep in Somalia.” Video here.

   Afterward, Inner City Press was told that Al Shabab's confession came after the statement was circulated and concurrence obtained. They didn't want to delay it. But wouldn't it have been stronger if more specific? An Ethiopian diplomat spoke about Eritrea. If ten Taliban are coming off the 1267 Al Qaeda sanctions list, does that mean there's room for Al-Shabab? Watch this site.

In Kampala, the Ethiopian Village - UN statements not yet shown

Incoming UN envoy on Somalia, Tanzania's former Ambassador Mahiga, spoke to Inner City Press at the UN in New York last week, including about the peacekeepers' use of “long range artillery” and the civilian casualties caused. Will Mahiga take this so-called “collateral damage” more seriously than Ould Abdallah did? Watch this site.

Footnote: Inside the Council on Monday morning, there was a minute of silence for the dead of Srebrenica. What there thought of the UN's role?

 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.

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

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