Kouchner at UN, No Africa in Questions, Airport Diplomacy and France
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, December 7 -- French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner swept
through the UN on Monday, meeting with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
and then briefly taking questions from the press. While he said he
and Mr. Ban discussed both Sudan and Guinea, neither was addressed in
Kouchner's remarks nor in the questions taken by his staff.
repeated questions on whether France considers Jerusalem occupied
territory. Kouchner replied that Jerusalem should be the "capital
of two states." Afterwards, still relatively new French
Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud asked Kouchner to clarify, since
reporters hadn't understood him to affirm Jerusalem as occupied
territory. Of course it is, Kouchner said and headed for the door.
asked him, "What about Gambari for Darfur," a shorthand way
to ask if France supports Ibrahim Gambari as the UN's and African
Union's envoy for Darfur. Yes we discussed that, Kouchner answered.
"But what about what some call his weak record in Myanmar?"
But Kouchner was gone.
in the hall,
reporters asked France's spokesman if there was any more time for
questions. He has a plane in one hour and thirty five minute, the
spokesman answered. Could Ambassador Araud stay and answer? The
spokesman shook his head. Araud was going with Kouchner.
official told Inner City Press that one reason Araud's predecessor
Jean Maurice Ripert lost his job was he was late to the airport to
pick up President Nicolas Sarkozy. Maybe that explains both diplomats
heading for the airport.
question would have been whether France agrees with ECOWAS' call for
the military junta to step down. Dictator Moussa Dadis Camara was
shot and taken for surgery to Morocco. Another question might have
been what if anything France is doing for Western Sahara human rights
activist Ms. Haidar. France has long opposed the UN's mission in
Western Sahara having any human rights component.
UN's Ban and Kouchner, answers to press on Africa not shown
Yet another would be why France
announced an embassy in Kyrgyzstan only days after that country barred
a human rights activist from Tajikistan, click here for that. What
to les droits de l'homme?
Footnote: Prior to
his briefing Q&A with the media, Kouchner stood beside Ban Ki-moon
before two microphones in Ban's 38th floor suite: a "press encounter"
with no press allowed to be present. Earlier on Monday, Ban's new
spokesman Martin Nesirky was asked why Ban wouldn't take questions. He
said he would find out, as well as providing answers including about
Gambari. Watch this site.
* * *
Shot Strongman Spirited to Morocco, Saharan Questions, Few UN Answers
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, December 6 -- Guinea dictator Moussa Dadis Camara, who took
power in a coup and oversaw the slaughter of at least 157 opponents
in September, has himself been shot and seriously wounded. Sources
tell Inner City Press that Lt Aboubacar Toumba Diakite, the chief of
his presidential guards and an active participant in the stadium mass
murder, has been concerned that while he may be held accountable,
Dadis Camara would get away scot free.
flown for medical treatment to Morocco. In October, Inner City Press
reported Morocco's involvement in Dadis Camara's close protection
security. Now, he's flown there for surgery. Why is Morocco so close
with Guinea, and Equatorial Guinea for that matter?
answer is that
while it is the African Union position that the people of Western
Sahara, which Morocco claims, deserve a referendum with independence
as an option, Morocco has been trying to pick off AU members with
offers of military and financial aid.
UN's Ban and Guinea's prime minister, coup de feu
and coup not shown
which as Inner City Press reported has
advised Burkina Faso president
Campoare that Dadis Camara should remain in power in the interim,
on Friday asked about the shooting:
City Press: it’s widely reported that Colonel Moussa Dadis Camara
of Guinea has been shot and taken out of the country to Morocco. Is
there, either Said Djinnit or whoever in the UN is dealing with that,
can that be confirmed, and do they have a statement on the
assassination attempt against the de facto leader?
Marie Okabe: I don’t have any reports today directly from Mr.
Djinnit on this incident, but the Secretary-General is aware and
following the situation. The latest violence underscores the urgent
need to move towards the restoration of constitutional order in
Guinea in a peaceful and consensual manner. The Secretary-General
calls for calm and reiterates the need to avoid violence and to
respect the rule of law. And he has instructed his Special
Representative for West Africa [Said Djinnit] to remain actively
engaged with national and regional stakeholders in the search for a
solution that provides the people of Guinea an opportunity to elect
their leaders in a democratic manner. And that’s what I have for
* * *
Darfur, Gambari To Be "Vigilant," U.S. Belatedly Says,
No Comment on Blackmail or Myanmar
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, December 2 -- Two days after Inner City Press exclusively
reported it, on Wednesday morning a Security Council member
that a letter nominating Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria as the UN's and
African Union's Special Representative to Darfur has gone to Council
asked U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, for the
second time, about Mr.
Garbari for Darfur, given that the U.S. criticized his predecessor
Rodolphe Adada for being too soft on Khartoum. Ambassador Rice said
Gambari should play an "active and vigilant role... to halt
attacks on civilians." Video here,
from Minute 11:41.
his time as
UN envoy on Myanmar, Gambari was criticized by human rights groups
for being too close to the military government of Than Shwe.
Gambari's response, privately and then publicly, was that if the
"Western powers" didn't give him benefits to offer to
Myanmar, he could accomplish little because the country has natural
gas and oil which China and India want.
also has oil which China wants and is obtaining. So what benefits,
what "carrots instead of sticks," will the U.S. through
Ambassador Rice allow Gambari to offer?
the UN's noon
briefing, the day after Inner City Press had asked acting
Spokesperson Marie Okabe about Gambari, she read a statement about
asked her to respond to the statements, including by an African
Ambassador who withheld his name from consideration for the post,
that Nigeria "blackmailed" Ban Ki-moon by threatening to
pull its troops from Darfur if a Nigerian didn't get the post.
to respond, saying it is now with the Security Council. Inner City
Press asked U.S. Ambassador Rice about the Nigerians threat to pull
out of Darfur. Video here,
from Minute 13:23.
comment on that," Ambassador Rice said as she
walked away from the stakeout microphone. Why not? Some say Nigeria was
miffed at the Obama administration for visiting Ghana rather than
Lagos. We'll see.
Susan Rice as President, Darfur process and
Myanmar successor not shown
Rice also declined to provide the U.S. position on what should be
done with with the UN good office post on Myanmar that Gambari has
"I'll let the
UN address that question as to what
his relationship with MYanmar will continue to be, if any," she
said. Inner City Press was told by an involved Ambassador that the UK
-- and the U.S.? -- wanted Gambari out of that post for being too
soft on Than Shwe. Is Darfur less important? Has it become just a
the U.S. Mission's transcript, video here
from Minute 7:27 -
City Press: On Darfur? I wanted to ask you, it’s known that…
Hold on, can we continue on Afghanistan?
from Minute 11:41 --
City Press: I want to ask you on Darfur, it’s… it’s thought or
known that the US had concerns about Rodolphe Adada when he was SRSG
of the UN for UNAMID. Now that Mr. Gambari’s been nominated in a
letter sent to the Council does the US, you know… do they… do you
feel that his approach will be different than that of Adada what do
think he should do as SRSG and relatedly what’s going to happen
with Myanmar for the UN? Is he going to cover both?
Rice: I’ll let the UN address that question as to what his
relationship to Myanmar will continue to be, if any. We have
significant appreciation and respect for Ambassador Gambari and we
look forward to working with him as he takes over the role of SRSG
for Darfur. We think it’s vitally important that UNAMID come up to
full strength; that the impediments to its movement and access are
immediately eliminated; and that the SRSG play a very active and
vigilant role in ensuring that both sides adhere to their obligations
to halt attacks on civilians, to adhere, we hope, to a lasting
cessation of hostilities. There is great work to be done as we
discussed the other day in the Council on the political front, but
there’s a vital need to ensure that UNAMID, whose mandate it is to
protect civilians, is fully able to accomplish that and that’s what
we will look to Ambassador Gambari as SRSG to accomplish.
question about Nigeria's reported blackmail to get the post for
Gambari is not included in the U.S. Mission's transcript.
* * *
Post to Gambari Confirmed, US's Kurt Campbell and UK's Burma Shave
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, December 1 -- That the UN is
giving its top Darfur post to
Nigerian Ibrahim Gambari was an open secret Tuesday night at the
although so far only Inner City Press has reported it, repeatedly,
four times in the last 36 hours. A top UN peacekeeping official told
Inner City Press that Nigeria made a strong play for the post, citing
its high number of peacekeepers in Darfur.
Ambassador told Inner City Press that the cynical explanation is that
the United Kingdom wants someone more strident to be the envoy to
Myanmar, Gambari's current job, and so agreed to move him to Darfur.
But why did the U.S. go along?
approached Gambari himself, for the second time in 12 hours, at
Thailand's national day reception on Tuesday night. "No
comment," Gambari began, laughing. He said he had met in
Washington with the the State Department's Kurt Campbell. As before, he
his strategy of engagement with the Than Shwe military government in
Myanmar is now being adopted by the U.S. -- why not in Darfur? Scott
Gration may be only the beginning.
UN's Ban and Garbari, Western views on Myanmar and
Darfur not shown
official of the
UN's half moribund Office of the Special Advisor on Africa, a post
Gambari used to fill, confirmed that Gambari is going to Darfur. A
person already offered a job in Darfur by Gambari said the Nigeria's
new president likes Gambari. As reported, even UN Peacekeeping
acknowledges that Nigeria used its peacekeeping presence in Darfur to
win the post.
reception, Lynn Pascoe he UN's head of Political Affairs, another job
Gambari previously held, exchanged pleasantries with Gambari and then
left. Then Gambari left. "Darfur here I come," someone
said, still wondering why he took the job. But take it he did -- you
heard it here first. Watch this site.
* * *
Darfur Jobs, UN's Gambari Returns from DC, Link to UNDP Post?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, December 1 -- In the lobby of UN headquarters on Tuesday
morning, the UN's
envoy - designate to Darfur Ibrahim Gambari told
Inner City Press, "I was in Washington yesterday." Over the
weekend, Gambari began asking certain UN staff to work for him in
focused advocacy groups have contacted Inner City Press responding to
reporting and expressing
concern about Mr. Gambari, pointing to his recent "good offices"
role with military government of Myanmar, and previous service of the
Sani Abacha military government in his native Nigeria.
November 30 Washington trip, they now ask, confirm
that these concerns are not shared
by the Obama administration?
official approached Inner City Press on Tuesday and criticized
Gambari's "unprincipled" actions regarding Myanmar. "He
goes to China and Russia and says, 'you have to help me with these
self righteous Westerners,'" the official said. "Then he
goes to the U.S. and says, 'China and Russia don't to do anything.'
Finally he tells Than Shwe, 'I can help you improve your image, I did
it in Nigeria.'"
recounting is not inconsistent with how
Gambari himself has described his role.
something of a
new low for the UN, Acting Spokesperson for the Secretary General
Marie Okabe at Tuesday's noon briefing dodged Inner City Press'
request that she confirm that the Secretariat has already offered the
post to Gambari.
said that a joint letter with the African
Union will go to the Security Council. Video here, from Minute 10:54.
that this procedural explanation answered Inner City Press' question.
But the request for for confirmation that the Secretariat has offered
the post to Gambari. On Monday, three senior UN officials told Inner
City Press this, with one of them adding only that "it's not
General himself, when Inner City Press told him the Gambari to Darfur
story had already been published, asked "how did you know?"
For his acting spokesperson, the next day, to decline to confirm the
offer falls short of the transparency -- even, of the competence --
that has been promised.
UN's Gambari and Myanmar's generals, Khartoum not
Okabe on Tuesday quoted from a Ban Ki-moon speech that he will
shortly appoint a woman as Associate Administrator of the UN
Development Program. Video here,
from Minute 5:35.
African Group, as exclusively
reported by Inner City Press, has protested
to Ban against his projected
appointment of Rebecca Grynspan of Costa Rica to the post,
now the gender of the winner appears to reject the African protest.
asked for confirmation that the appointee is Rebecca Grynspan, and
Ms. Okabe said no name is being announced. But doesn't announcing the
gender imply that the decision is made? "I only know what he
said in his statement," Ms. Okabe said. Isn't a spokesperson
supposed to know, or at least be able to find out, more than that?
the top nomination have cynically, or demographically, become linked.
The Ban Administration will be "humiliating" the African
Group, as one Ambassador put it, by denying them the UNDP post they
believe was promised to them when Helen Clark of New Zealand took the
top spot and Ad Melkert left.
But the Ban
Administration will point,
as a sop to Africa, to the appointment of Gambari to the Darfur job,
a post that was certainly going to go to an African anyway. "Or
they'll wait on Grynspan, to combine it with some other
announcement," a UN official told Inner City Press. Watch this
* * *
Supports UN's Offer of Darfur Post to Gambari Despite NGOs'
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, November 30 -- On making the new UN envoy to Darfur the
Nigerian Ibrahim Gambari, previously UN envoy to Myanmar, it appears
the fix is in. Even the U.S., said to have wanted a more strident
human rights voice for the post, has reportedly gone along.
Ambassador Susan Rice, asked Monday about Gambari to Darfur, said "we
support the Secretary General."
City Press' exclusive
report earlier on Monday that Gambari had been
offered the post by the UN and African Union, Inner City Press
received confirmation that Gambari has already been requesting
commitments to come serve with him in Dar fur.
Ban Ki-moon, as he greeted Inner City Press, was told that iot had
already published the Gambari to Darfur story. His reaction was,
"How did you know?"
peacekeeping official said that the offer had been made - and Gambari
has already started hiring -- but it "remains to be signed."
Council is required to sign off on the appointment. Because the U.S.,
France and UK had opposed Rodolphe Adada's "soft" line on
Khartoum in a closed door lunch with Ban Ki-moon, many including
U.S.-based NGOs had assumed the U.S. would use its leverage at the UN
to get a a stronger voice, less "aligned with dictators" as
one NGO put it, to head the Darfur mission.
Susan Rice and team at stakeout, Gambari to Darfur
sought to ask questions of Susan Rice at her too rare stakeout session
Monday, but was not given the microphone by her spokesman. Later,
Inner City Press posed to the spokesman four questions in writing,
including a request to comment on Gambari to Darfur. By 7 p.m. no
comment had been received.
asked Susan Rice for her and the U.S. Mission's view of Gambari to
Darfur. "We support the Secretary General," she said. Since
his Office has confirmed the job offer to Gambari, this means that
Ms. Rice and the U.S. support Gambari, despite reservations being
expressed by the Darfur focused NGOs which supported Barrack Obama.
Watch this space.
* * *
"Blackmail" Captures UN's Darfur Post for Gambari, Spurned Candidate
Tells Inner City Press
Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
NATIONS, November 30 -- The joint UN - African Union envoy post to
Darfur has been the subject of "blackmail by the Nigerians,"
a well placed African Ambassador exclusively told Inner City Press on
Monday morning, explaining the UN's offer of the post to Nigerian
He said that "once the Nigerian threatened to pull their
troops out of Darfur unless they get [Rodolphe] Adada's post,"
he and other candidates withdrew themselves from consideration "to
avoid putting the Secretary General in an awkward position."
threatened to pull its troops if it was not given the force commander
post in UNAMID, vacated by Nigerian Martin Luther Agwai.
said, "the Nigerians have given Ban Ki-moon a list of their
nationals for consideration for the post." He added that while
he understands that Ban will "give in" and name a Nigeria,
it will not be one on the list provided by the country.
months ago on June 19 by Inner City Press, of Ibrahim
Gambari getting the post, the Ambassador nodded and said, "but
it is not yet very open."
Inner City Press got confirmation of the post going to Gambari from a
senior Ban administration adviser on the 38th floor, as well as
individuals who have received confirmation from Mr. Gambari himself. He
was getting shouldered out of his Development Fund for Iraq duties by
Ad Melkert. He was known to be frustrated by Ban's political chief Lynn
Pascoe not letting him work on any African issues. But who will take
over for the UN in Myanmar? Watch this site.
One wonders what the U.S., France and UK,
which criticized Rodolphe Adada's "too soft" stance to Ban Ki-moon,
think of this process to replace Adada.
At a closed door lunch
between the Security Council and Ban, the three Western Permanent
member lambasted Adada's assessment of Darfur. Inner City Press has
been told, by an attendee of the lunch, that rather than say he'd look
into it -- or, as he has with Kai Eide in Afghanistan, that he fully
supports "all" of his SRSGs, Ban said he agreed with the criticism and
would talk to Adada. Then Adada was not renewed.
recently, Ban's outgoing spokesperson has insisted that UN position
like the contested
number two post in the UN Development Program are given out on
merit, not continent much less nationality. The process to replace
Adada, as described by a withdrawn applicant, is at odds with this
UN peacekeepers in Darfur's Zam Zam camp, UN
politics not shown
Security Council's consultations about Darfur on November 30, Inner
City Press asked outgoing Council president Thomas Mayr-Harting of
Austria what the Council made of report that Sudan's Al Bashir
government wants the UN to prepare to pull its peacekeepers out.
Mayr-Harting said, that did not come up. Again.
Mayr-Harting also said, in his final stakeout as Council President,
that the Council would defer until its extension of the mandate UN
Mission in the Congo the damning conclusions of the Congo Panel of
Experts, including that the Mission, run by Alan Doss, is assisting
and enabling former CNDP units which are now Congolese Army units and
are involved in mining, including of gold.
Susan Rice, in a rare but still overly
controlled stakeout Q &A before Mayr Harting's, spoke of the
DRC sanctions, alluding to Sixty
Minutes' November 29 piece on the topic, as well as Somalia. Inner
City Press has submitted written questions on these and another topic
to the U.S. Mission, which says it will respond when possible. Watch
* * *
Congo's Gold Hits 60 Minutes, UN Is Let Off Hook, Wal-Mart's 10%
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, November 29 -- The Congo's conflict gold was the
subject of a fifteen minute feature tonight on the American television
program Sixty Minutes. A former rebel said he used collected gold to
buy weapons and ammunition from the Congolese army. A woman said she
was raped by men in Army uniforms.
accepted UN escort and showed a UN camp, but neglected to mention
that the UN now provides logistical support to the Congolese army,
which beyond weapon sales and rape has been documented for the mass
murder of civilians, by the UN's own special rapporteur and experts.
But the UN's
top envoy to the Congo Alan Doss has
told Inner City Press there is not
enough evidence, and has yet to act on Special Rapporteur Philip
Alston's report detailing mass rape by Congo's Army. (Click here for
coverage of Congo trip by Inner City Press.)
least mention this perversion of the UN's peacekeeping mandate, Sixty
Minute showed a UN camp to which 13,000 internally displaced people
fled. Bags of flour and beans and cooking oil were distributed on the
day of filming, for the first time in five months.
Minutes nor the two non governmental organizations which appeared on
screen, HRW and the Enough Project, explained the starvation
just outside a UN camp.
UN's Ban and Doss in Congo, continuing support of
rogue Army units not shown
The point of
the show was that just as conflict diamonds were focused on seven
years ago, conflict gold now cries out for action.
without explanation that the UN tries to stem the flow of conflict
gold. But if the UN is supporting Army units which rape, kill and
sell weapons, and which themselves control mines, how is the UN
trying to stop the flow?
Back in the U.S., Sixty Minutes quotes Tiffany's as identifying the
source of nearly all of its gold -- in Utah -- while Wal-Mart will only
that it will track the source of 10 percent of its gold by next year.
If it were rap music with profanity, Wal-Mart would take action. But
conflict gold from the Congo? Ten percent sourcing, maybe, by next
* * *
Murky on Angola's Oil, Bond and China Deals, Doles Out $1.4 Billion
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, November 25 -- Days after announcing a $1.4 billion
arrangement with Angola, the International Monetary Fund held a press
conference call to offer explanations. At the end, things were
murkier than before. Inner City Press asked if the IMF had been able
to fully assess the income and distribution of revenue from the state
owned oil company Sonangol.
Leigh, who led the Fund's missions to Angola in August and September,
replied that "in the context of our negotiations, Sonangol
participated fairly well." Inner City Press asked, since
Sonangol has accounts in off shore financial centers and tax havens,
if the IMF had gotten to the bottom of these accounts.
pause, Lamine Leigh proffered another answer, that the government has
"committed to steps in the more general area of resource revenue
transparency." But what about the Sonangol accounts?
Oil in Angola, Sonangol's accounts not shown
asked about the statement
by IMF Deputy Managing Director and Acting
Chair Takatoshi Kato that in Angola "measures will be taken to
strengthen further the regulatory and supervisory framework."
The IMF's Senior Advisor on Africa Sean Nolan replied that the IMF
analyzed the effect of the exchange rate on borrowers and "on
government has gotten billions in pre-export oil loans from, for
example, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank. The
latter has made similar loans in Turkmenistan, assailed by
transparency and human rights advocates. How much of the IMF's new
arrangement benefits these banks?
questioner after Inner City Press, cutting off follow up, was from
Standard Bank. Other than Inner City Press, the only other media
questioner was from Reuters.
ended, Inner City Press was able to ask about Angola's reported $4
billion bond sale planned for December. Sean Nolan said that the
IMF's "understanding" with Angola does involve a
"fundraising effort," but that the timing was not agreed
to, the IMF does not "micromanage" to that extent. Nolan added
that there is an agreement on an "overall limit."
billion dollars?" Inner City Press asked.
the precise limit will be "clear in the documents," which
have yet to be released. Why play hide the ball?
praised the country for "appointing reputable financial and legal
advisers for the transaction" -- JPMorgan Chase will be the manager.
that the actual size of the bond sale will depend on how much
"concessionary lending" Angola gets from "countries
with a strong record of financial support to Angola."
asked if the size of China's loans to Angola -- China gets 16% of its
foreign oil from Angola -- were known by the IMF or considered.
figured in our discussions," the IMF's Nolan responded. Why not? Watch
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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