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As in Guinea Peul Targeted, UN “Does Not Wish to Comment,” Rwanda Echoes?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 31 -- As in Guinea the Peul people are targeting and fleeing, the UN's Dakar-based envoy to Guinea Said Djinnit told Inner City Press he would “prefer not to comment at this time.” To some, it was a small echo of Rwanda, the UN waiting for the right time, invariably too late.

At the UN's October 29 noon briefing in New York, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky about the mounting violence in Guinea:

Inner City Press: maybe you’ll have a statement on this, on the fleeing of the Peul ethnic group in Guinea in the run-up to the elections. Have you seen… I know that Mr. [Said] Djinnit has made statement that he was glad of the rescheduling, but there is now this report of 1,800 of the Peul ethnic group basically forced to flee violence in the run-up to the election. I’m wondering, is that something…? Does Mr. Djinnit or the UN have any comment on this? Does it impact on the elections?

Spokesperson Nesirky: There may be something more specific in a little while. I will ask my colleagues. But you rather selectively quoted from what Mr. Djinnit said. As you know, he also called for there to be the right conditions for elections to take place, and not simply that it was good that they were going to take place.

  That was what had earlier been said.

Tears in Guinea, UN "does not wish to comment"

  But, amazing to some, later Nesirky's UN office sent the following to Inner City Press in response:

Subject: Your question on the Peul in Guinea
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

We have received the following from UNOWA:

SRSG Djinnit is informed that the UN team will conduct a joint assessment mission next week and does not wish to comment for now. He reiterates his call to the two candidates and other Guinean leaders concerned to do everything to defuse tension and create conditions conducive for peaceful ballot.

Does not wish to comment for now”? When, then? Watch this site.

* * *

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.

 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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