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

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At UN, Facile on Burkina Faso, Ban's Djinnit Underplays a Coup or Mutiny

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 8 -- Months ago amid a soldiers' munity in Burkina Faso, Inner City Press asked the spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon what the UN thought and was doing about it.

 First there was no comment, then Inner City Press was told that Said Djinnit of the UN Office for West Africa was “monitoring” the situation.

  But the report filed in the run up to the Security Council's semi-annual meeting Friday about UNOWA did not mention Burkina Faso, despite having sections on Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Niger and the Cameroon - Nigeria Mixed Commission. Why not?

  Djinnit was supposed to be the guest at the UN's noon briefing on Friday, and had finished his closed door briefing to the Council before noon. But he did not appear for the briefing, nor back at the Council stakeout.

Hours later in the UN's North Lawn building, Inner City Press spotted Djinnit by the Vienna Cafe, and asked him, “What about Burkino Faso? Why is it not in your report?”

Not everything goes in the report, he said cryptically.

Ban takes Burkinabe award from Campaore, comment on unrest not shown

 Later still it was confirmed to Inner City Press that in Friday's closed door consultations, several delegations asked about Burkina Faso and Djinnit said he followed it closely and was in touch with President Blaise Campaore and “key stakeholders.”

Why not put it in the report, then? Burkina Faso is known to not want to be discussed in the Council. The country and its diplomats are used by the UN, and US and former colonial power France, on Darfur and Cote d'Ivoire.

  Inner City Press is told that Djinnit routinely praises the long-serving Campoare. To openly discuss mutinies in the country is inconsistent with all this -- and so it is not in the UN report, and is confined to closed door consultations. And so it goes at the UN.

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Amid Burkina Faso Unrest, UN & Djinnit Stay Silent, Under France's Watchful Eye

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 4 -- Now that the fighting in Burkina Faso has killed civilians, the UN's long silence seems all the more strange, when contrasted to its comments on unrest in other countries.

  On June 1, Inner City Press asked the Office of the Spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon what the UN had to say about the ongoing mutiny in Burkina Faso, which resulted in 24-year rules Blaise Campaore dissolving the government and calling home UN Darfur mediator Djibril Bassole as foreign minister.

  From the UN's transcript:

INNER CITY PRESS: I just wonder if anyone at the UN is tracking these mutinies in Burkina Faso where the army has been for several months rebelling against the Government. There is just now a recent outbreak of shooting in the main town, and I just wonder, does the Secretary-General have, you know, I don’t know… is there… Burkina Faso is a big contributor of peacekeepers, a big player in peace initiatives in Africa — has there been any statement at any point by the UN about this ongoing turmoil in Burkina Faso?

  That day, the UN Spokesperson's office had no comment, merely saying that Ban's Department of Political Affairs was watching and would be checked with. Later Inner City Press was told that Ban's envoy for West Africa Said Djinnit was “of course monitoring,” but chose not to say anything.

And now, Campaore's forces have rumbled into the second city of Baso Dioulasso and at least seven have been killed, including a young girl. Colonial power France is said to be watching. Some wonder, watching to make sure the UN doesn't criticize? We'll see.

* * *

Former Saleh Minister Is UN Face in Arab World, UNDP Yemen Website Dormant

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 4 -- Amid news that Ali Abdullah Saleh is leaving Yemen, under the immunity deal he has three times before rejected, the United Nations' engagement with Saleh's thirty year rule has come into focus.

  Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the UN Development Program about its director for Arab states, Amat Al Alim Alsoswa, who previously served as a Saleh minister and has since “been the UN's face” in the region, according to UN sources critical of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's performance during the Arab Spring.

  In April, Inner City Press asked UNDP:

On Yemen, please state whether former Saleh minister Ms. Amat Al Alim Alsoswa has recused herself from consideration of Yemen programs. Please also state, on deadline, whether Ms. Amat Al Alim Alsoswa or any family member... would be covered by the immunity deal negotiated between Saleh and the Gulf Cooperation Council.”

Days later, UNDP's spokesman responded that

UN staff are all international civil servants who act in accordance with the United Nations’ standards and norms. Ms. Amat Al Alim Alsoswa assumed her post as Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Regional Bureau of Arab State in 2006 after leaving her official functions with the Government of Yemen. Ms. Alsoswa is not part of any political discussion or agreement taking place in or on Yemen.”

Inner City Press followed up:

On Yemen, I wanted to know if she is involved in UNDP's program for Yemen, if she or her brother are covered by the immunity negotiated by the GCC.”

UNDP's spokesman responded that she had not recused herself:

Regional Bureaux perform an oversight function over country programmes. They review the programme and the evaluation plan, based on the quality criteria, to provide in-house quality assurance of the programme. The Director of the Bureau endorses the quality of the evaluation plan prior to the submission to the Executive Board. Ms. Alsoswa and her brothers are not part of any immunity deal.”

The deal, which some say was developed with the input of the US Embassy in Sanaa, doesn't specifically name all of the Saleh associates who would be covered by it.

Former Saleh minister Alsoswa in Yemen 2010, recusal not shown

 Earlier this year, even as Saleh has started ordering the use of life ammunition against protesters in Sanaa, UNDP's Helen Clark visited the country accompanied by Amat Al Alim Alsoswa. In UNDP's statements, democracy and the right to peaceful protest were absent.

  UNDP promoted the joint visit of Helen Clark and former Saleh minister Amat Al Alim Alsoswa on UNDP's Yemen web site. A visit to the site on June 4 found that it had not been updated for a month, and said virtually nothing about the killing of protesters.

Likewise, the UN's Syria website has been fun of happy talk -- until it disappeared from the Internet on June 3 as part of Assad's crackdown on the 'Net. But why block access to the UN when it is aligned with the dictators? Watch this site.

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.

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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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