Iraqi Elections, UN Has Two Positions, Afghanistan Redux?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 8 -- While there is much to be said about the Iraqi
elections just held, the UN can't seem to get it act together on what
to say, or even what it should be talking about. Top UN envoy to Iraq
Ad Melkert spoke for the second time in a month to correspondents at UN
headquarters Monday, this time by
video, and painted a rosy picture of the election.
asked about the sample complaints of Ayad Allawi, about
irregularities and confusion at polling stations, and his call for an
investigation. We are aware of points of various candidates, Melkert
said. It is is not my task to comment on particular statements. Video
here, from Minute 10:42.
Melkert's rosy assessment not be seen as an implicit rejection of
Allawi's complaints, Inner City Press asked. Video here, from Minute
11:52. It is not my task or UNAMI's task, Melkert replied, to assess
complaints. I did not refer to fair elections, only that turn out was
good, that it was a big day, Melkert said. "You cannot attribute
to me any assessment."
Telegraph did attribute an assessment to Melkert, specifically as a
rebuttal to Allawi, directly by this quote: "The polling process
was well-organised, orderly, and polling procedures were properly
UN's Ban and Melkert, Iraq elections complaints and
restraint not shown
that statement to the Telegraph, and then told UN correspondents that
it is not his or UNAMI's job to make such assessments. Which is it?
some, this is
reminiscent of the UN's performance during the Afghanistan election,
downplaying complaints until a whistleblower emerged to denounce Kai
Eide's praise. Watch this site.
* * *
Iraq, UN's Melkert Silent on Blackwater and Black Balling of Baath
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 16 -- What does the UN's top envoy to Iraq, Ad
Melkert, have to say about the acquittal and impunity for the
mercenaries of Blackwater now Xe who killed Iraqi civilians? "That
is a specific case," Melkert told Inner City Press on Tuesday at
the UN, "we don't advise on specific cases." Video here,
from Minute 11:34.
asked Melkert about a range of human rights issues in Iraq, from
honor killings to executions to freedom of the press. Melkert said
his Office, UNAMI, issues human rights reports every six months,
"critical on several of the issues you mentioned." Video here,
from Minute 6:03.
how can the UN
be critical if, as Melkert claimed about Blackwater, the UN "doesn't
advise on specific cases?"
right now is, like Kai Eide's was in Afghanistan, to try to make
national elections appear credible. Inner City Press asked him about
barred candidate Saleh Mutlak, who has been told he cannot run for
office because he was a member of the Baath party. Mutlak says he
quit in 1977, and was only goaded into saying he was still a member.
grounds for exclusion "legitimate," and said the UN only
advocates for transparency in the application of the rules, citing
Iraq's "Accountability and Justice Law of 2008." While
speaking about reconciliation, Melkert said that excluding former
Baath party members is similar to what happened in Europe "after
the Communist regimes."
Melkert told Inner City Press that the UN "has a permanent
position against the death penalty" -- one that Ban Ki-moon
backtracked on during his first day in office, on the subject of Iraq
-- when Melkert was asked about the execution of former Baath party
members, he replied, "I could not take your point on that, the
way you formulated it, so I could not comment further."
Melkert and his less than democratic guards in Baghdad
away from the microphone, Inner City Press asked him if he now agrees
with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's call that senior UN system
officials make some minimum public disclosure of their finances.
Melkert laughed and said, "You see that I" -- then signed
his name in the air. "What is good is that you don't forget."
he was the
Associate Administrator of UNDP, he came out publicly against Ban's
call for financial disclosure. Video
from Minute 37:55 through 44:41. He also said, on UN
ain't seen nothing yet." Inner City Press recounted this history
for a Dutch television station tailing and filming Melkert for the
day. Another correspondent criticized Melkert go along [to] get along
performance in Iraq, wondering what next job he might have his eye
Many in the
UN grumble that Melkert "chased" fellow UN
official Ibrahim Gambari out of Iraq. Now it's his show, for better
or worse. Watch this site.