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At UN, Nigeria Mutes Critique of Shell, UNEP & Campbell, But Equal Pay for Equal Work

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- Standing in for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Foreign Minister Henry Odein Ajumogobia took questions from the Press on Tuesday and answered, not surprisingly, diplomatically.

 While civil society and local officials in the Niger Delta have lambasted the UN Environment Program and Shell for what is viewed as a white wash of Shell's destruction of the area, when Inner City Press asked Minister Ajumogobia to speak on the issue, he referred only to clean up efforts in the Delta. One wag asked, clean up of what?

While Ajumogobia has publicly criticized the book of former US Ambassador John Campbell, “Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink,” when Inner City Press asked if Ajumogobia would raise the issue to Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton or any other US official while in New York, Ajumogobia instead recounted his good relations with Campbell around the Gulf of Guinea, when Ajumogobia was the Attorney General of River State.

  Inner City Press asked what Nigeria's position is on Sudan, including the International Criminal Court's indictment of President Omar al Bashir for war crimes and genocide. Let me not preempt what President Jonathan will say at Friday's meeting, Ajumogobia said, adding that Nigeria is “fully engaged in Sudan,” particularly in Darfur.

Ajumogobi at the UN, critique of UNEP and Shell not shown

  Notably, Ajumogobia's predecessor Ibrahim Gambari is now the joint UN - African Union representative in Darfur.

One of Ajumogobia's answer was clear and to the point. Inner City Press asked him to elaborate on the statements of Nigerian Permanent Representative to the UN Joy Ogwu, that African Union peacekeepers in Somalia should be paid similarly to UN peacekeepers.

Equal remuneration for equal work,” Ajumogobia replied. Hear, hear. As to Nigeria's position on Sudan and participation in the September 24 meeting, watch this site.

Footnote: Nigerian foreign minister Ajumogobia's press conference started 10 minutes late because the participants in the previous session, including the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Ahmed Djoghlaf, were still in the room taking photographs including of a model Japan Air Lines plane with some murky biodiversity connection. It looked more like an advertisement for an airline...

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On Sudan, UN to Name Panel This Week, Obama's 5 Minutes on Darfur & Bashir Photo Op?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 20 -- Before the Sudan meeting on September 24, which will include US President Barack Obama and Rwandan President Paul Kagame among others, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is trying to name the three members of his Panel to monitor the referendums set for January 9.

The UN says it is trying to name a former African head of state as the panel's chairperson, but has received push-back from the National Congress Party of Omar al Bashir and from the SPLM. The UN privately admits that it will not open the 80 monitoring sites it has announced, but perhaps only as few as fifty five.

  Meanwhile on Darfur, joint UN - African Union mediator Bassole wants to announce a new set of talks in Doha for September 28-29 with “a movement,” believed to be the relatively pro government Liberation and Justice Movement, which is headed by a former UN staff member.

  Another former UN staff member who served with the Mission in Western Sahara which has yet to hold the referendum promised there is now in charge in Sudan of the Referendum Commission, with the UN trying to provide assurances to the SPLM that this does not portend delay.

  Inner City Press on September 20 asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm that previous service with the UN in Western Sahara. Nesirky, who often tried to shirk off such questions from Inner City Press to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations or Department of Political Affairs could not do so in this instance, and promised to revert.

  Nesirky or DPKO should also explain how it is legitimate for the UN to use UN Volunteers for most of the 600 new posts in its UNMIS Mission. Nesirky's office has previously claimed that the UN's humanitarian coordinator Georg Charpentier does not show his press releases to the Sudanese humanitarian affairs minister, something of which a more senior UN official has since said that Nesirky's answer was not true, that the releases ARE being shown during this “tense” period.

  Of the September 24 meeting itself, the UN has already circulated the elements of the statement it hopes will issue, and says that Ban Ki-moon will restrain himself to five minutes, hoping that other participants will. But President Obama's advisor Samantha Power, on a September 20 conference call, said that Obama will be delivering “substantial remarks” in the meeting.

Ban, Obama, Pascoe, Menkerios: focus on Darfur not shown

   Inner City Press was not called on to ask Ms. Power or Ambassador Susan Rice to describe the current status of the UN Security Council's trip to Sudan, which has been stalled based on the desire of the US, UK and France to avoid a photo op with Omar al Bashir, indicted for war crimes and genocide. There is a dinner on Monday night hosted by Sudan at which this may be discussed. Or will the trip be among Obama's “substantive remarks” on Friday?

  On the White House conference call, very little was said of Darfur. The UN has accepted restrictions on its freedom of movement so that it does not even leave its bases while civilians are being slaughtered, as happened earlier this month in the Tarabat Market. President Obama, it seems, will not be mentioning this. And the UN, retaliating for coverage of its inaction, speaks only to its friends. Some diplomacy. Watch this site.

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Sudan Actions in NY as UN Council's Trip is Stalled, China Warn of Bashir Humiliation

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 19 -- The UN Security Council's planned trip to Sudan remained stalled on Sunday, as the UK, France and US oppose any meeting or photo op with Omar al Bashir.

 Inner City Press asked a Permanent Five member of the Council's ambassador if there was any movement and was told of a dinner hosted by Sudan on Monday night near the UN, at which Vice President Taha will be pushed “to clarify.”

  Later on Sunday, Inner City Press sought to ask US Ambassador Susan Rice about the trip, as she walked from the meeting of the Panel on Global Sustainability to a reception, but was given no answer.

  Elsewhere in New York on Sunday, Sudanese activists Albaqir Mukhtar and Salih Osman Mahmoud spoke at Lincoln Center at a poverty event alongside a group fighting deaths on the road , while members of the Sudanese diaspora rallied in front of the UN. (Click here for a description of the rally by Bec Hamilton, and photos including the one below.)

Rally outside UN on Sept 19 by Bec Hamilton, UNSC trip not shown

  On the sideline of the Security Council's last meeting, the Permanent Representative of a Council member which is a member of the ICC told Inner City Press of a willingness to meet and greet Bashir, adding that the US and UK Ambassadors could just “stay in the hotel watching CNN.”

  But Inner City Press is told by involved sources that China has warned Sudan that the US, France and UK may “try to humiliate” Bashir, and to watch out for it. So the stand off continues. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

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

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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