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UN's Ban "Did Not Know of Fowler" as Niger Envoy, Diplomat Says, Alleging Fraud

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 1 -- Ten weeks after Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler disappeared in Niger while ostensibly serving as UN envoy to that country, in New York a diplomat of a Permanent Five member of the Security Council told Inner City Press that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "didn't know about Fowler's appointment as an envoy when he was asked," after Fowler's disappearance.

   The diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity as was the case in Inner City Press exclusive and subsequently video-verified report a month ago of Fowler being alive, said this means that mine-related business was being done through the UN without Ban's knowledge.

   "You have a layer of quasi-UN people," he said, "supposedly working for a dollar a year and the like. It is fraud." He added that attempts to delve into l'affaire Fowler are "being blocked... there are interests on the other side."

  The diplomat approached Inner City Press at a reception on February 26 at the East 62nd Street residence of Yukio Takasu, Japan's Ambassador to the UN. Takasu served a Security Council president for February, and held an end of the month reception as is the custom. The previous anonymous diplomatic scoop, that Fowler "est vivant," came a month prior, at the end of presidency reception held at the French mission to the UN. Inner City Press hopes that further inside information does not have to await the end of March, when Libya's time at the Council's helm will end. Watch this site.

Photo of hostages in the region, AFP via Jeane Afrique

  Meanwhile, a second video of Fowler and Louis Guay, as well as their UN Development Program driver, has reportedly been seen by AFP. Jeane Afrique runs a photograph of hostages.  The Canadian Dominion reports on previous interventions by past and present diplomats from Ottawa in mining business disputes in Niger, including between Canadian and Chinese companies. The read-out given of the meeting last week between Prime Minister Harper and Ban Ki-moon, before Ban left for Africa, was vague if not evasive.

  That business may be run through Ban Ki-moon's office without his apparently knowledge is raised by sources for another Inner City Press story this weekend, that a switch was quietly made in which the top post at the UN Office in Nairobi can be switched from Tanzanian head of UN Habitat, Anna Tibaijuka, to director of the UN Environment Program, Achim Steiner. Locals note that Ban's Under Secretary General for Management Angela Kane is German, as is Steiner.

  As in their shifting responses to questions about Fowler's appointment and mandate, even on this rule change Ban's Spokesperson's office was evasive. At the UN's noon briefing on February 27 Inner City Press asked

Inner City Press: in yesterday’s Journal there was an announcement in a new Secretary-General Bulletin about how the UN Office in Nairobi is organized.  And it is my understanding that it actually would result in currently the most senior of HABITAT or UNEP is running the Office in Nairobi, and that the new policy the Secretary-General would get to choose between the two.  Is that accurate and is it his intention to switch Nairobi from Ms. Tibaijuka to Mr. Achim Steiner?

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe:  If the Secretary-General’s Bulletin is what you read that’s all I have for you right now.

Inner City Press: Well, what’s the rationale of changing the existing policy under which an African official runs the Africa office of the UN to a policy that would have it the other way?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I have nothing beyond what you read in the Bulletin.

  Watch this site.

Click here from Inner City Press' Feb. 26, 2009 debates about the UN

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

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

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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