Says Fowler On Private Visit to Niger Mine, Of P-5 Plus One,
Other Secret Envoys?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 9 -- After months of denying then refusing to
comment on reports that its putative Niger envoy Robert Fowler was
visiting a Canadian owned gold mine on the day of his abduction, the
UN on September 9 admitted they didn't know where he was going that
day, and later reconstructed that it was to a mine that had nothing
to do with its supposed UN mandate. This reversed even the UN's
September 8 statement that Fowler was on UN business at the time.
Some cynics conclude that the UN covered up Fowler's activities
Fowler turned on the UN and said that perhaps UN supporters of Al
Qaeda "sold" him. Then the UN admitted the truth about
Fowler's foray, but only as revenge or retaliation. Others say tell
Inner City Press that Fowler's mission to Niger was about uranium,
and was in fact supported by four of the P-5 Plus One...
co-visitor to the mine, Louis Guay, Fowler has said "I have a
moment, just a moment, and I said Louis, tell them the truth. No
matter what happens, tell them the truth. You don't have anything
that is so important to protect that it's worth your life." Some
wonder, why was Fowler's partner trying to lie? Is it because of the
mining visit ?
disagreeing with the UN's statement Wednesday about its knowledge of
his itinerary, Fowler has said
president of Niger, whose name is Tanja. It was clear from the first
time I met him in August that he was offended, annoyed, embarrassed
by the fact that the secretary general of the UN had seen fit to
appoint a special envoy for his country. In fact, some of the stuff
I've read since I got out, with Niger government spokespeople talking
about my mission. They said I was there to see if I could get hold of
illicit arms trafficking, which was not my mission. My mission was
to get the government to make peace with the rebels. As long as there
was no peace with the rebels, the enemy was at the gate, right? If
al-Qaeda is taking people on the outskirts of the city, the enemy's
really at the gate. And governance of national security makes sense,
right? So I don't know who shopped me. I know somebody shopped me.
Who could it be? It could be the government of Niger. Could be an
al-Qaeda sympathizer in the UN office in Niger. In the UN office in
West Africa. In the secretariat building in New York. All of them had
my agenda, my itinerary."
the September 9
noon briefing, UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq said that "we
ourselves at the United Nations were not always fully apprised of his
travels; and in fact the day he was abducted we had to try and to
reconstruct what had happened on the day that he was kidnapped."
In Niger, a (uranium) mine, Fowler and UN mandate not shown
Press followed up:
City Press: I wanted to ask a follow-up on Mr. Fowler. In what you
just said, you just said that the UN, I just want to be clear --
you’re saying that the UN didn’t know where he was going or what
he was doing that day? I mean, I wanted to know, is it the
Spokesperson: We did not know at the time; we had to reconstruct
that afterwards -- after the abduction.
But what’s the protocol if an Under-Secretary-General is in the
country of known -- I’m not sure what the security threat was -–
isn’t he supposed to tell security, at lease DSS [the Department of
Safety and Security] where he is going? Did he have security with
him that day? I guess not.
Spokesperson: As you’re well aware, he did not have security with
him. There were Mr. Fowler, Mr. [Louis] Guay and their driver,
Soumana Mounkaila, were travelling -- just the three of them.
And does that violate UN procedures?
Spokesperson: I don’t want to get into that particular question. As you
know, Mr. Fowler kept people apprised sporadically. But, at
the very moment that he was abducted, we did not know about his
travels over those previous several hours.
And just when you reconstructed it, can you now say where was he
going? Because many people, many newspapers have reported that he
was headed to a gold mine that’s owned by a Canadian firm. Is that
true or not true?
Spokesperson: He was headed back from a trip to that mine.
He’d visited the mine, which was part of a private visit,
but he was actually going back to the capital, to Niamey.
You’d said yesterday that he was performing his official duties at
the time it took place. Is it official duties to visit a mine?
Spokesperson: He’d done a number of official duties that day and
in fact he was going to a working meeting back in Niamey at the time
that he was abducted.
September 9, the UN never admitted that Fowler had engaged in a
"private visit" to a Canadian owned mine. The conflict of
interest, and even violation of the UN charter, is obvious. But the
UN apparently has or enforces no rules in this regard. Inner City
Press asked a question left unanswered from the previous day's
City Press: I’m just wondering; is he still a USG or not, or has
his term expired?
Spokesperson: He’s no longer working for the United Nations.
then, for the
City Press: Are there any other USGs that have been named, say, this
year, that have not been announced in this room?
Spokesperson Haq: If they have not been announced, I am not aware of
spurious: there are many things the Office of the Spokesperson is
aware of and does not announce. We'll see.
Sources tell Inner City Press that Fowler's mission to Niger was
about uranium, and was in fact supported by four of the P-5 Plus
Fowler Speculates Al Qaeda Supporters in UN Sold Him Out, Questions
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 8 -- Robert Fowler, the Canadian whose abduction
in Niger last year was followed by the UN's belated announcement that
he had by stealth been serving as an Under Secretary General envoy to
that country, has now expressed a
belief that his kidnappers were
tipped off about his location either by the Niger government or by Al
Qaeda sympathizers in the UN in Niger or headquarters in New York.
Inner City Press on September 8 asked UN Associate Spokesman Farhan
Haq if Fowler is still serving as a USG, and what the UN or Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon makes of a current or former USG speculating that
there may be Al Qaeda sympathizers in the UN who fingered him for
kidnapping. Video here,
from Minute 16:15.
Fowler hadn't said that, that he only speculated that someone leaked
his itinerary. Inner City Press asked Haq to confirm what the UN
refused to, during Fowler's captivity, that he was visiting a
Canadian owned gold mine, without UN security, when he was grabbed.
Haq insisted that Fowler when kidnapped had been "going about
his regular duties." But why did these duties include visiting
a Canadian owned gold mine?
that the government of Niger "hated" the mission Ban
ostensibly sent him on, mediating with the Taureg rebels including
about uranium claims. If the UN, which so often describes itself as a
club of member states, can appoint an envoy to Niger which the
government there hate, some ask why Ban Ki-moon has not done anything
of the sort in light of the bloody conflict in Sri Lanka?
Haq did not
answer Inner City Press' question of whether Fowler is still a USG,
the UN belatedly disclosed, at least internally, that he began in the
post on July 21, 2008. Will the UN now say that his term simply ran
out, organically, on July 21, 2009, without explaining more?
Guay, Fowler and Mali's president, answers to
questions not shown
still unanswered questions about l'affaire
Fowler, for the UN to
confirm or deny:
Fowler Party did not have ANY UN- or Host Country-provided close
protection (or any form of security whatsoever) on its ill-fated and
unauthorized side trip to a Canadian owned gold mine in Niger last
December -- yes or no?
associate, Louis Guay, did not have UN-issued travel orders prior to
their excursion to Niger, and that travel orders have been created by
the Secretariat after the fact, contrary to UN rules and regulations
-- yes or no?
Department of Safety and Security was not informed by the Department
of Political Affairs about the Fowler trip in advance, contrary to UN
rules and regulations, and therefore did not provide security
clearance in advance -- yes or no?
use of a UNDP
driver and vehicle was not authorized by the appropriate UNDP
security and administrative authorities, contrary to UN rules and
regulations -- yes or no?
Nigerien Government was not aware of the Fowler Party's side trip to
the gold mine, and was not informed that Fowler was undertaking any
UN responsibilities in Niger during that trip besides
representational duties related to Niger's national day celebration
the Friday prior to his abduction -- yes or no?
Fowler, who while at UN Headquarters being "debriefed"
never spoke to or answered questions from the press, gave his
interview to Canadian Broadcasting, CBC. During the time of his
detention, CBC obediently did not report on the story or scandal.
Some surmise that was in exchange for the access now granted. If
Fowler won't answer the questions about, the UN should. In fact, both
should. We'll see.
* * *
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
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
Permanent Five member of the Security Council told Inner City Press
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "didn't know about Fowler's appointment
an envoy when he was asked," after Fowler's disappearance.
The diplomat, speaking on
Inner City Press exclusive and subsequently video-verified report a
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
scoop, that Fowler "est vivant,"
came a month prior, at the end of presidency reception held at the
mission to the UN. Inner City Press hopes that further inside
not have to await the end of March, when Libya's time at the Council's
will end. Watch this site.
Photo of hostages in the region, AFP via Jeane
Meanwhile, a second video of
Fowler and Louis
as well as their UN
Development Program driver, has reportedly been seen by AFP. Jeane
a photograph of hostages. The Canadian
reports on previous interventions by past and present diplomats from
Ottawa in mining business disputes in Niger, including between
Chinese companies. The read-out given of the meeting last week between
Minister Harper and Ban Ki-moon, before Ban left for Africa, was vague
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,
Tibaijuka, to director of the UN Environment Program, Achim Steiner.
that Ban's Under Secretary General for Management Angela Kane is
German, as is Steiner.
in their shifting responses to questions about
and mandate, even on this rule change Ban's Spokesperson's office was
At the UN's noon briefing on February 27 Inner City Press asked
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
is running the Office in Nairobi, and that the new policy the
would get to choose between the two. Is
that accurate and is it his intention to switch Nairobi from Ms.
Mr. Achim Steiner?
Spokesperson Okabe: If the
Secretary-General’s Bulletin is what you read that’s all I have for you
Press: Well, what’s the rationale of changing the existing policy under
an African official runs the Africa office of the UN to a policy that
have it the other way?
Spokesperson: I have nothing beyond what
you read in the Bulletin.
Click here from Inner City
Press' Feb. 26, 2009 debates about the UN
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
from Inner City
December 12 debate on UN double standards
here for Inner
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
this site, and this
Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
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