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As Kyrgyz Interim Leader Worked for UN, No Comment from UN, Pending Kubis

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 8 -- With the world temporarily focused on or at least looking at Kyrgyzstan, much of the focus has been on new "interim" leader Rosa Otunbayeva. One salient fact, however, has been missed: Rosa Otunbayeva has worked for the UN, in Georgia, from 2002 to 2004.

Inner City Press went back and found a quote from Rosa Otunbaeva:

UNOMIG deputy head Roza Otunbayeva said she hoped that both sides would still make an attempt to give concessions in order to advance the talks, and she pledged continued support from the United Nations. "The U.N. will do everything possible to create conditions conducive to trust and constructive work," she said (Kuchuberia, ITAR-Tass).

  Based on this, Inner City Press asked UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq

The new [interim] leader of Kyrgyzstan is a former senior UN official, having served as the Deputy and Acting SRSG in UNOMIG during the previous SG's tenure. Does the Secretary-General believe that the new leader is someone he can work with, given her UN credentials?

  The UN's Haq replied that

"Concerning Kyrgyzstan, as the SG announced, Jan Kubis will travel there tomorrow as his special envoy. We will await his travel and meetings as we evaluate the situation in the country; we wouldn't have any comment on the leadership there at present."

Inner City Press followed up:

"to the Kyrgyz question, can the UN confirm that the current 'interim' leader of Kyrgyzstan is a former Acting UNSRSG? And has the current SG or his staff had any communications with her prior or subsequent to the fall of the Baliev Government yesterday?"

  Bear in mind that close observers say that Ms. Otunbayeva was chosen as interim leader due to her "international connections."

Ms. Otunbayeva with then UNSG Annan, Ban Ki-moon's Kyrgyz visit not shown

  But the UN's Haq replied:

" I wouldn't comment on the leadership in Kyrgyzstan while Jan Kubis prepares his visit. I can confirm that Rosa Otunbayeva had been Deputy SRSG for UNOMIG from 2002 to 2004. "

  What magic, then, can possible next UN Secretary General Jan Kubis perform in Kyrgyzstan? Watch this site.

* * *

On Sudan, Moonlighting UN Staffer as Darfur "Rebel" Leader, As JEM Is Pressed to Support Elections on April 11

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 28 -- With elections in Sudan approaching as threats and irregularities multiply, a United Nations employee in Addis Ababa Al-Tijani Al-Sissi suddenly emerged as the head of newly formed rebel Liberation and Justice Movement. Beyond the politics, one wonders how a person can be a paid UN employee and at the same time by a pro-government "rebel" leader?

  Despite Al-Sissi being out of The Sudan for 20 years, and being a full time staffer of the UN's Economic Commission for Africa, he was brought to the fore as purported replacement for Abdel Wahid Al-Nur, leader of the legacy rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, whose Fur tribe has thus been unrepresented as Al-Nur refuses to participate in the Darfur talks much less elections.

  A Fur willing to talk with al-Bashir was needed, and a UN staffer was found. But to be a leader, he must have put time into the rebel movement, while being a UN staffer. Why was this accepted?

  Inner City Press is informed that Al-Sissi's supervisor at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Abdalla Hamdok, complained about the moonlighting or double service of Al-Sissi, but that nothing was done.

  This does not look good, one long suffering Darfuri told Inner City Press on Friday. The UN has some explaining to do: watch this site.

Al-Tijani Al-Sissi, moonlighting from UN ECA job not shown but accepted

  Meanwhile, with Sudanese opposition parties nearing a decision next week on whether to boycott the April 11 election if Omar al-Bashir's National Congress Party does not agree to postpone it, Inner City Press is told by Arab Group ambassadors at the UN that pressure is being brought to bear on Khalil Ibrahim of the Justice and Equality Movement rebels to have JEM come out favor of April 11 polling.

  "Khalil Ibrahim has been summoned to Doha," Inner City Press was told by an attendee of the March 26 meeting of the Arab Group, at the Ambassadorial level, held in the UN's new building by New York's East River.

  At the UN on Friday, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to explain Ban's quote in Al Hayat against any postponement of the election, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: There is an interview that the Secretary-General gave with Al Hayat about… there are portions about President Bashir -- that he would not meet with him unless “absolutely necessary”. But particularly it seemed to be quoting him as saying that he is not in favour of any postponement of the Sudanese election. Something the opposition parties there requested and the Carter Center has said that -- and I believe that the UN in a background briefing has said -- that 11 April would be would very difficult to accomplish. So, what does he mean by no postponement? He believes it absolutely should be held on 11 April?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Read out the exact quote.

Inner City Press: Okay: “I understand that elections could be postponed for a short period of time, but why should be made to postpone the month of November? I am not sure it can properly [be] arranged at that time.” So I am asking, I guess there are some words missing there, but…

Spokesperson: Yes, there are some words missing. I read that, too, and there are some words missing in that transcript. What I think is clear is, as we have said before and has been said from here, there are fairly considerable technical challenges to delivering that election for the Government that is in the driving seat on this, and for those who are providing technical assistance. It is a considerable undertaking. What I think he is suggesting there is that, if there is a delay, it does not mean that it will be any easier should there be a delay to deliver at a later date. I think that is all he is saying.

  But some see a connection, which the UN has yet to address, to the UN housing or hosting a pro-government rebel leader to support talks with Al-Bashir, while also ignoring Sudanese opposition parties' call for a postponement in light of abuse. Watch this site.

Footnote: on the above quote by Ban Ki-moon, which came from the Sudan Tribune's pick-up of Al Hayat's interview, a junior Al Hayat correspondent ran into the UN press briefing room to say that her newspaper's version of the transcript did not have any words missing. While Inner City Press then explained where it got the quote from, strangely neither statement was included in the UN's transcript, although both can be seen in the video, here.

* * *

As Bashir Threatens to Cut Observers' Fingers Off, UN Silent, on Venezuela Trip

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 23 -- Sudan's president Omar al Bashir has claimed his indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes has made him more popular, in the run up to elections. He's said that after the elections, he will travel to Venezuela, a member of the ICC.

  Inner City Press on March 23 asked the UN about Bashir, and experts on the ICC about Venezuela's -- and Brazil's -- duties to apprehend Bashir. David Donat Cattin, Director of the International Law and Human Rights Programme at Parliamentarians for Global Action, replied that Venezuela has NOT invited Bashir, and would be obligated to arrest him. So too would Lula, he said, if Bashir flew over Brazil. Video here.

With the UN in Sudan in the run up to election, what does the Organization say when President Bashir threatens to "cut off the fingers" of elections observers? Nothing, is the answer.

Bashir on the mic, cut fingers not shown

* * *

In Sudan, UN Still Hasn't Reached Jebel Marra in Darfur, Pre-Spins Election Criticism, Afghanistan Redux?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 22 -- Weeks after reports of civilians being killed in Jebel Marra in Darfur, the UN has still not managed to visit the area, Inner City Press has been told. After twice asking about the issue in UN noon briefings, at a background briefing on March 19 by two senior UN officials about Sudan's upcoming elections, the failure to visit Jebal Marra was acknowledged. Later this came in writing:

"Dear Matthew, Kindly find hereby the answer to your question asked during noon briefing regarding Jebel Marra : Has UNAMID accessed Jebel Marra since the recent incident involving the Blue Helmets?

"The Mission is hoping to materialize a security assessment in the next week with a view to then sending humanitarians."

The UN's background briefing in advance of the April 11 elections in Sudan left correspondents scratching their heads. To many, it appeared that following the bad publicity the UN Mission in Afghanistan got, on phantom polling places and the like, the UN wants to "get out in front of the issue" in Sudan, and disclaim any responsibility for fraud.

"It's not for us to judge," said one of the senior UN officials. "Our role is not as observers."

Inner City Press asked about blatant attacks on the press and on the ability of candidates to speak to the public. For example, Sadiq al-Mahdi being unable to broadcast, the National Press Council of Sudan grilling two editors for insulting Omar al-Bashir, a radio station in Juba shut down for a time.

UN's Ban and Sudan Bashir in past: congratulations on your election?

The senior UN official said that each incident was raised, behind the scenes, to the Sudanese authorities, presumably by new UNMIS chief Haile Menkerios. But if the trends of crackdown is raised but just continues, does the UN go public?

 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.

* * *

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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