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At UN, Farewell to Takasu Amid Echoes of OIOS, of Human Right to Water and Sushi

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 28 -- Japan's Yukio Takasu held a farewell to New York and the UN on Tuesday night at his country's East Side townhouse.

  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was there -- expressing surprise at reports that South Africa was promised a senior post at the Office of Internal Oversight Services in change for not blocking the top spot going to a Canadian - as well as his Under Secretaries General Lynn Pascoe, Kiyotaka Akasaka and Angela Kane.

  After Mr. Ban and his well liked bride left, much talk turned to the controversy stirred by the damning End of Assignment Report of outgoing OIOS chief Inga Britt Ahlenius. While usually at the UN, the press asks Ambassadors for information and opinion, this time is was the reverse.

  Several Ambassadors asked Inner City Press, What do you think this means for Ban getting or not getting a second term? Major Permanent Representatives had read the critical Press coverage. “This is not good,” they said. “But will Obama have the decisiveness to act?”

  Susan Rice was asked and told the media as if by rote that the US supports Ban. Others in the Obama Administration are not saying the same thing.

  Ban's USGs worked the crowd. Angela Kane of Ban's Department of Management bowed, Japanese style, with an outgoing members of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions from, where else, Japan.

 Due to ACABQ's penchant for anonymity, we will not name her but wish her well. As the UN's envoy to Darfur said earlier at the stakeout, ACABQ recently visited El Fasher. She noted of Inner City Press, your coverage of ACABQ is always fair. Hey, it's the only accountability mechanism in the UN, along with the press.

  Kiyo Akasaka of Ban's Department of Public Information was in his element, offering food recommendations and this new media news, that the UN is agreeing to a refer in their forthcoming guidelines to a willingness to accredit bloggers -- and not only “journalists who write blogs” -- although, strangely, confined to a footnote. We'll see.

  The recurring focus, if often strayed from, was on Takasu-san. Inner City Press' last on camera question to him concerned his changes to Security Council procedures and “working methods” -- he answered that transparency to non Council members is the goal, and noted that the informal meetings on Sri Lanka, for example, were an innovation.

   Sri Lanka's Ambassador was there, glad handing U.S. Susan Rice, holding forth on his gig for Palestinian rights. Neither Sudan's gastronome Permanent Representative, nor his underfed charge d'affaires, were present, despite round after round of sushi and salmon sandwiches, glasses of wine as well as green tea.

  Bolivia's diligent and collarless Ambassador told Inner City Press about the upcoming vote on the human right to water, which he said the U.S. has been opposing.

Yukio Takasu and UN's Ban: farewell, farewell? OIOS not shown

  “Takasu has good food,” reviewed Susan Rice, who appeared along with her Deputy Rosemary DiCarlo. Belgium, Palau, Austria, Jamaica, Luxembourg and more sent Permanent Representatives. India's always well informed Perm Rep had clearly read his WikiLeaks, particularly about the Polish premonition of the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

  For the past two days, Inner City Press as asked the UN about parts of the WikiLeak -- Pakistani “retired” General Hamid Gul's involvement in a plot to kidnap UN staff, UNAMA's Jalalabad meeting with American armed forces -- without getting any substantive response.

  As the night wound down, Takasu approached Inner City Press. You did not come through the receiving line, he chided. Inner City Press shook his hand now, and asked for one last time why Japan had reversed itself at the last minute on giving helicopters to South Sudan.

Takasu said the Sudan requires the breaking down of equipment, and it can get damaged. The radar is not sufficient. Takasu if nothing else was always detailed in his answers to the press. Clearly, he will be missed.

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On Darfur, UN's Gambari Discloses Gration in Alaska, Opposes UNICEF, Dodges Genocide

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 27 -- The mystery of why US envoy to Sudan Scott Gration did not attend the UN convened summit in Darfur on July 5 was finally resolved on July 27. Previously, Inner City Press asked the US Mission to the UN why Gration did not attend, which was viewed in Sudan as a snub of the process, such as it is, led by Ibrahim Gambari.

The US Mission said that only Gration's spokeswoman and office could answer. But Gration's spokesperson Marie Nelson declined to return a series of detailed phone messages. The US Mission reiterated that only she could answer.

Not so -- on July 27, Inner City Press asked Gambari himself, and Gambari proudly said that “General” Gration had served in Alaska, and wanted to attend a Fourth of July parade in the state. There -- was it so difficult? US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice indicated that even she didn't know the reason. What was that, about the Obama administration's Sudan policy being clear and united?

Gambari also criticized UNICEF for reaching a child soldiers deal with the Justice and Equality Movement rebels in Darfur, saying that since they say they have no child soldiers, why reach a deal with them? The focus, Gambari said, should be on pressuring JEM to return to the Doha process.

Later, the UN's senior anti child soldier official acknowledged to Inner City Press that more should have been done in advance of the deal's announcement to prepare the ground. With the government of Sudan? No -- with the UN's mission in Darfur, UNAMID. We'll have more on this, from UNICEF.

Gambari on July 27, response on Al Sissi and genocide indictment not shown

Inner City Press also asked Gambari about the propriety of using a paid UN staff member, Al Tijani Al Sissi Ateem, to lead a “rebel” ground, the Liberation and Justice movement. Gambari said we wouldn't comment on that, but that even a deal with LJM wouldn't bring peace to Darfur. Video of all here.

As he tried to walk away from the microphone, Inner City Press asked about “the genocide indictment” against Omar al Bashir. We can continue informally, Gambari said. And to his credit he remained by the stakeout, and told Inner City Press that the Security Council may go to Darfur in October. We hope to be there. Watch this site.

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On Darfur, As US Gration Says Genocide Charge Makes His Job Harder, Rice Insists Policy is Clear and United: Or Is It AWOL?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 27 -- Days after Sudan's Omar Al Bashir was indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, UN envoy to Sudan Scott Gration said that the indictment “makes my job harder.”

  This not surprisingly gave rise to outrage among human rights advocates. Tuesday at the UN, Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice if Gration's in the Obama administration's view. Video here, from Minute 2:49.

  Ambassador Rice responded,“No, the United States is very clear and united behind President Obama's policy towards Sudan.” Activists, on the other hand, say that the Obama Administration's policy on Sudan is drifting, or AWOL (Absent Without Leave) as one campaign puts it.

From the U.S. Mission's transcript:

Inner City Press: Some say that the administration, sort of, that you have one message, and Scott Gration has another message. He was quoted recently as saying that the indictment for genocide of President Bashir makes his job more difficult. So I guess what I'm wondering is, is there something called Project AWOL that says the administration has sort of lost its way on Sudan policy? What do you make of that criticism and do you think that-is the administration moving with one voice to put pressure on President Bashir both on Darfur and on South Sudan having the referendum, or are there mixed messages, as some say?

Ambassador Rice: No, the United States is very clear and united behind President Obama's policy towards Sudan, which has multiple components as it was outlined by Secretary Clinton and I and others and General Gration in October. We are placing very strong emphasis on full and urgent implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as the referendum approaches and we attach great urgency to resolving the many issues that remain unresolved. At the same time, we are gravely concerned by the deteriorating security situation in Darfur, the need for accountability for justice for ending the violence and ensuring full protection of civilians. And so, the situation in Sudan is complex, there are multiple imperatives, and we're united in our efforts to meet those imperatives.

Susan Rice on July 27, Gration, AWOL

Inner City Press: Does the genocide indictment make your job more difficult, just one follow up. Is that actually what he said?

Ambassador Rice: I'm not in a position to say precisely what others have said. Suffice it to say that the United States stands firmly behind justice and accountability for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity in Darfur and elsewhere.

  Questions were also raised about the U.S. position on accountability for war crimes when Ambassador Rice issued a statement largely lauding Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa government's own panel on “Lessons Learnt,” which was meant to forestall a advisory UN Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka.

  UN envoy to Darfur Ibrahim Gambari, it was said, would speak to the Press after the Council's consultations. At the UN's noon briefing on Tuesday, Inner City Press asked a question about Darfur, to which spokesman Martin Nesirky said, you can ask Ibrahim Gambari. But Gambari left and did not do the stakeout. Later it was announced he would appear at 4:30. Questions about Scott "Alaska" Gration will be asked. Watch this site.

 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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