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Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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UN Puts Zewde Atop Nairobi With Nepotism in Central Africa UNanswered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 11 -- After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon unceremoniously demoted Anna Tibaijuka from heading the UN Office in Nairobi, reassigning that power to German UNEP chief Achim Steiner, the General Assembly rebelled and created a new, separate Under Secretary General position to run UNON.

  (In her other job atop UN-HABITAT, Ms. Tibaijuka was replaced by Mr. Joan Clos of Spain. Since then, the UK has cut all of its funding to HABITAT, calling it “irrelevant.”)

  It was understood that Ban should fill the UNON post with an African, and today he did. But the person he selected, Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia, while heading the UN office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), refused to clean up or even answer on documented nepotism in BINUCA:

  In late 2009, Inner City Press asked Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde, Special Representative of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Head of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) about a series ofBONUCA hires of relatives of the head of the UN Department of Political Affairs Africa II Division, Sammy Buo. She said she would look into it, take action and report back.

Nine months later, having heard nothing from her or about any changes, Inner City Press asked her for an update. “I don't want to speak about the past,” she said.

Inner City Press asked, “But are the individuals, including the former employee of the Executive Outcomes private military firm, still employed by the UN in the CAR?” She would not answer.

How can the UN credibly preach transparency and anti-corruption if these are its practices?

   And without answers, how will UNON fare?

UN's Ban and Ms. Zewde, action on nepotism in CAR not shown

Inner City Press formally asked the director of DPA's Africa II Division Sammy Kum Buo the following questions:

Mr. Buo -- I am writing a story about this morning's Security Council session on BONUCA / Central African Republic. I am also covering management issues in BONUCA and DPA and am writing for you to confirm or deny on deadline each of the following [about BONUCA staffers]

Is Gabriel Buh Kang a relative of yours? A cousin?

Is BONUCA staffer Ekei a relative of yours? Your niece?

What is the status of Brindou Germain Kabran ?

When in CAR, have you stayed with Brindou Germain Kabran?

Did you still collect DSA? Please provide records.

What can you say about the case of Gozo Tshamala?

On deadline, Matthew

   Mr. Buo is also accused of hiring a former mercenary from Executive Outcomes, in violation of UN rules. While Mr. Buo has refused to respond, Inner City Press has discussed the matter with other Mission officials and finally, on December 21, 2010 with Mr. Buo's ten boss in DPA, Haile Menkerios (since made UNMIS chief).

  Mr. Menkerios confirmed he was aware of the issue. Inner City Press asked Mr. Menkerios what DPA's response would be. It is a management issue, Mr. Menkerios replied, that will be responded to in a management way.

  But has it been?  Yet?


Subject: BINUCA

From: Name withheld due to retaliation concerns

To: matthew.Lee [at]

Dear Matthew Please innercity should absolutely look into this matter which is serious WHAT IS GOING ON IN BONUCA/BINUCA?

DPA has created a new mission called BINUCA to replace BONUCA starting January 2010 in Central Africa Republic. For more than 9 years, BONUCA a DPA led mission was plagued with nepotism and favoritism... Of particular importance is the role played by Mr Sammy Kum Buo, the Director of Africa II, very famous with his absence of political judgment (remember Rwanda where he was advising the SRSG Booh Booh) who had succeeded in appointing a niece called Ekei as Administrative Assistant, a cousin called Gabriel Buh Kang in the finance section... the recruitment of the security Officer, Antonio de Jesus a former memeber of Executive Outcome was done in violation of all the recruitment rule procedures. Buo is trying to maintain in the mission his friend Brindou Germain Kabran where he lives when he is mission in CAR despite he, receiving the DSA.. His fellow Cameroonian... Marie Claire Bikia, recruited as administrative Assistant, is trying to be promoted Gender assistant. She went several times in Turin for gender training.

In order to cover this integrity issues, Sammy Kum Buo with the support of or not of Lynn Pascoe is currently deciding on the future of the staffs by trying to impress upon the new SRSG, the Ethiopian diplomat, Ms Zewde who is in her first experience in the UN and doesn't know the administrative procedure. Sammy Kum Buo would like to keep his cousin, niece and friends and sacrifying the other staffs. This is UNACCEPTABLE Inner city press should try to raised this issue

  Consider it done, or started. Watch this site.

With UN Libya Envoy Al Khatib Unvetted for Conflicts, Some on Security Council Seek Clear Limits to His Mandate

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 11 -- Amid questions about the UN's lack of transparency on the business interests of new Special Envoy to Libya, Jordan's former foreign minister, Senator and businessman Abdul Alah Al Khatib, some members of the UN Security Council were to meet with Al Khatib on Friday afternoon.

  UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant told the Press about the 4 pm meeting on Friday morning, as the Council became consultations on Sudan, Kenya and Cote d'Ivoire, with a minute of silence for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

  After those meetings, China's Permanent Representative and Council President for March Li Baodong told Inner City Press that the meeting with Al Khatib had been arranged by Lebanon, in the second of its two year term on the Council.

  Informed sources told Inner City Press that there are concerns in the Council that Al Khatib may not be clear on the scope of his mandate. While it is described as encompassing politics or the political track, some Council members want Al Khatib strictly limited to humanitarian issues.

  At the beginning of the week, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky if Al Khatib would suspend his business interests, including service as a director of Jordan Ahli Bank which, along with Gaddafi's Libyan Central Bank, is a top 20 owner of Union de Banques Arabes et Francaises.

  Nesirky said that “those involved” would discussing that, presumably before al Khatib was unveiled and confirmed on March 11.

But at the UN noon briefing on March 11, after a press stakeout at which Nesirky's deputy Farhan Haq did not allow this outstanding question to be put to Al Khatib or Ban, Inner City Press asked Haq how and if Al Khatib's outside business interests had been vetted before he was given the post and sent to Tripoli.

Haq insisted that Al Khatib, like other UN envoys, will file a financial disclosure with the UN -- one that the Ban administration allowed to remain confidential, not available to the public.

  Inner City Press asked if Al Khatib had at least filed this disclosure prior to being given the post, so that the UN could assess if conflicts of interest exist.

  He just got the post, Haq answered, insisting again that Al Khatib will file in the future.

Ban & Khatib on March 11, disclosures not shown (c) MRLee

  Another journalists followed up, saying that conflicts of interest are serious.

Haq said dismissively that it was only something “he” -- presumably meaning Inner City Press -- was raising. But the need to vet outside hires' business interests is no small matter, as the Obama Administration found out when it sent Frank Wisner, from a law firm with interests in Egypt, as an envoy to Mubarak. (Weisner showed up since that at the UN at the Richard Holbrooke memorial, as exclusively reported on Twitter by Inner City Press.)

Haq did not say whether anyone at the UN had considered Al Khatib's possible conflicts of interest before he was given the job. As Inner City Press has reported, Ban first offered the post to Lakhdar Brahimi and Kemal Dervis before settling on Al Khatib. Being the fall-back, are conflicts of interest allowed? Watch this site.

* * *

UN Envoy Al Khatib Is On Board of Jordan Ahli Bank, Links With Libya Central Bank

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 -- In selecting Abdul Ilah al Khatib as the UN's envoy on Libya, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon moved quickly -- maybe too quickly.

 Since serving as the foreign minister of Jordan, describe even some close to Ban as an autocracy, al Khatib has served on the boards of director not only of Lafarge Jordan Cement Company but also of Jordan Ahli Bank.

Jordan Ahli Bank is active beyond that country's borders. A sample connection: along with Libyan Foreign Bank, a fully owned subsidiary of the Central Bank of Libya, Jordan Ahli Bank is a top 20 shareholder of Union de Banques Arabes et Francaises.

   Could there be conflicts of interest? Did the UN's Ban administration even consider these?

Ban & al-Khatib in 2007, directorships not shown: or considered?

   Ban previously claimed that 99% of his officials have made public financial disclosure. But when Inner City Press showed this is not true -- even Ban's close ally Choi Young-jin, his envoy in Cote d'Ivoire, declined to make public financial disclosure -- Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban's statement had been “metaphorical.”

Now Ban names and injects al Khatib into a struggle about democracy and free press, when as Inner City Press noted yesterday

"Foreign Minister Abd al-Ilah al-Khatib in January initiated a criminal defamation suit against weekly newspaper al-Hilal's editor-in-chief Nasir Qamash and journalist Ahmad Salama. He [al-Khatib] objected to the content of a January article, and said his tribe had threatened to beat up Salama if he failed to take action. The case remains in the courts at this writing."

  By what process was al-Khatib vetted and selected? Watch this site.

* * *

UN's Envoy al-Khatib Has Attacked the Press, Commitment to Democracy Questioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 7 -- Faced with armed and unarmed struggles for democracy in North Africa and the Middle East, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week decided to name a UN envoy to the region.

 But sources close to Ban tell Inner City Press, shaking their heads, that democracy seemed the last thing in Ban's mind when he assembled his short list.

  Ban offered the post to Lakhdar Brahimi of Algeria, where the election of an Islamic party was simply annulled.

  Ban offered the post to Kemal Dervis, which the Ban administration sources say was ridiculous, given that Dervis is mostly an economist and academic, and given his record at the UN Development Program, reviewed below.

  Finally, as what the sources called a “fall back,” Ban gave the post to a former foreign minister of Jordan. According to Human Rights Watch's World Report 2008, this Jordanian

"Foreign Minister Abd al-Ilah al-Khatib in January initiated a criminal defamation suit against weekly newspaper al-Hilal's editor-in-chief Nasir Qamash and journalist Ahmad Salama. He [al-Khatib] objected to the content of a January article, and said his tribe had threatened to beat up Salama if he failed to take action. The case remains in the courts at this writing."


  Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, who did not allow a question at Monday's noon briefing about Libya from Inner City Press, instead telling another reported that "this will be the last question," said that al-Khatib will not be based in Libya. If he will not speak with the rebels, will Gaddafi speak with him, given Gaddafi's characterization of Jordan as a stooge of the US and Israel? So how was he selected?

  At Friday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked if Ban has had any contact with Libya's Ali Treki, now nominated by Gaddafi to be his new ambassador to the UN, since Treki left his post as President of the UN General Assembly. From the March 4 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: can you describe what, since Dr. Treki was the President of the General Assembly, since that time, the Secretary-General’s contacts, if any, with Mr. Treki?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I am not aware of anything particular. Obviously, within the context of Dr. Treki being the President of the General Assembly for the sixty-fourth session, they obviously interacted with him, he with him in that capacity. I am not aware of any specific interaction since then.

Inner City Press: Did he have any other UN system role since he left being the President of the General Assembly?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Not to my knowledge, but if colleagues have details, I am sure that they will correct me, but not to my knowledge. I think it is important to point out that this was a letter from the Libyan authorities, and naming Dr. Treki as the person they wish to have as the Permanent Representative.

Inner City Press: And what does this mean, what’s the next step in terms of the Secretariat? Does this go to the General Assembly or do you just automatically process and begin, and give Mr. Treki a pass?

Spokesperson: It doesn’t go to the General Assembly. As I think you know, recognition of countries is a matter for Member States. Libya is a recognized member of the United Nations, and it is in that context that, when any country sends a letter naming the Permanent Representative, that person is the person who will be recognized as the Permanent Representative. But that is a question of presenting credentials; the person comes to present credentials.

Inner City Press: One last thing on this, because I remember in the case of Côte d'Ivoire, the Secretary-General went and gave a speech; he said the General Assembly should take up the matter and take on the [Alassane] Ouattara people as opposed to the [Laurent] Gbagbo people.

Spokesperson Nesirky: That’s a very different matter; this is entirely different. This was, as you know very well, this was a question of new Government being recognized by Member States, by the Credentials Committee; it is entirely different. You can’t compare the two.

     Treki has yet to arrive in New York, and in fact may not any time soon to replace current Ambassadors Shalgam and Dabbashi, sources tell Inner City Press. We'll have more on this.

  Regarding Kemal Dervis, when he left the UN system in early 2009 Inner City Press wrote that his

"tenure was marked by a series of scandals in UNDP, from funding violent disarmament in Uganda anddiamond mining in Zimbabwe to procurement fraud cover-ups and financial irregularities in its North Korea program. Through it all, Dervis largely avoided the media, repeatedly telling Inner City Press that he refused to answer questions in the hallway of the UN, as even the Secretary General and his top officials do. He presided over retaliation, and then fought to keep UNDP exempt from the UN system's Ethics Office."

   So why did Ban offer Dervis the job, then turn as a fall back to a Jordanian minister who has threatened the press?

Footnote: on Dervis, all that said, Inner City Press has a semi-positive memory. On his way into the Secretariat building one blue-skied day, Dervis stopped and mused that, you only have so many mornings like this in your life, you have to enjoy them. We hope he does -- and that the next UNDP Administrator does a better job. At the UN noon briefing then, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson if he will at least commit to what his predecessor did, releasing a short list of candidates for the post. I don't know yet, the Spokesperson said then.
 And now, this secret fall-back process and this result.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 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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