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UN Won't Confirm or Comment on Malawi's President's Death, 8 Hours of Silence

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 6 -- While the UN is increasingly slow to respond to or even comment on things ranging from the killing of civilians in South Sudan through claims for compensation for giving Haitians cholera to the placement on its Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping of an alleged war criminal, one expects the UN to respond and comment on the death of a member state's president.

When North Korea's Kim Jong-Il passed away, a moment of silence was held (though a request for such a moment by Syria's Ambassador was rejected on April 5). When a French professor died this week in a New York hotel, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon immediately commented.

  But while media all over the world report that Malawi's president Bingu wa Mutharika died on April 5, for eight hours on April 6 the UN's top two spokespeople neither confirmed it nor even acknowledged receipt of that question, plus one on a mutiny by a International Criminal Court indictee in Eastern Congo, where the UN spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on "peacekeeping."

  Early on April 6 Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's two top spokesmen, "can the UN confirm, and does the Secretary General have any comment on, the reported death of the president of Malawi?"

  No response, eight hours and counting as of this publication. Previously at the UN, Inner City Press asked Ban's adviser Jeffrey Sachs about Bingu wa Mutharika, the first time getting an answer and more recently not, while Sachs was still running for the World Bank's top job. (Since then he's confirmed to Inner City Press he fully supports US-nominated Korean-born Jim Yong Kim, strange given the stated rationale of Sachs' run.)

  Earlier still at the UN, Inner City Press exposed the mis-use of UN grounds by Madonna for a fundraiser ostensibly for "Raising Malawi." Inner City Press has directed questions about Malawi to the IMF, which answers on Egypt and Sri Lanka, but declined on Malawi. Now with the Bingu wa Mutharika era over - though his brother's in the wings -- will that change? 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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