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With UN's Gambari In Myanmar, Than Shwe and His Money Not Questioned

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

UNITED NATIONS, February 2 -- While UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari met with Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar on Sunday, the UN in New York declined to confirm reports that she told him that Ban Ki-moon should not come until she and other dissidents are released. Inner City Press asked if Ban will consider going before these conditions are met, but his Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe did not answer this question. Video here, from Minute 16:01.  She said that Ban will meet Gambari in Asia later in the week, and decisions will be made.

  Gambari has met with ministers but not Senior Leader Than Shwe. It is not clear if he has questioned the 2008 Constitution, pushed through in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, or if he has looked into the UN's acceptance of currency losses by accepting Than Shwe's exchange rate between dollars and Foreign Exchange Certificates. In response to Inner City Press' December 2008 story about Nigeria, which Gambari used to represent as UN Ambassador, giving $500,000 with no strings attached to the Than Shwe government, Gambari said he had nothing to do with it.

  But in response to Inner City Press' reporting, picked up in Nigeria, the Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria has "carpeted the Federal Government for the recent reported gift of a whooping sum of $500,000 to the military regime in Myanmar (former Burma). The group demanded an immediate explanation from the President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to Nigerians and the sack of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ojo Maduekwe, for what it called total breach of several pro-democracy sections of the 1999 Constitution." Click here for that.

UN's Gambari in Myanmar, Than Shwe and money not shown

 The UN's humanitarian chief John Holmes was asked on January 19 by Inner City Press about such contributions made outside the structure of the UN's formal appeals -- but, in this case, made inside the UN building, in the penumbra as it were of the UN.  We prefer it through us, he said, so it can be tracked. Video here. It appears clear that Nigeria never informed the UN about the contribution. And now that they know?

Footnote: at UN headquarters last week during a press conference on the Responsibility to Protect - Engaging Civil Society project, Inner City Press asked a speaker from Mindanao in the Philippines about the application of "R2P" to Myanmar. He said he favored it; another speaker said that a natural disaster should not be used as a pretext. Click here for video of that press conference, here for a January 28 Inner City Press debate about R2P including in Myanmar.

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.

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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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