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Of Somalia Sanctions & UN Guards, Somaliland's Aspirations, Censors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 23 -- When the UN's Somalia envoy Nicholas Kay along with AMISOM head Mahamat Saleh Annadif took questions on April 23, Inner City Press asked them about the new Ugandan guard unit, about the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group and about Somaliland including its disputed airspace. Video here from Minute 14:23.

  Kay said, "at the moment we're absolutely clear obviously on the international legal position vis-a-vis Somaliland, it's not a recognized state by anyone. But they have a very strong sense of their own statehood and aspirations to independence."

  Kay referred to the Turkey-facilitated talks between Somaliland and the Somali government in Mogadishi, including about airspace. He said that UN funds and programs operate in Somaliland. But UNSOM does not: Somaliland points to the mandate it was given by the Security Council.

  On the Ugandan guard unit, Kay said they will protect the UN but work with AMISOM. But in March, AMISOM spokesperson Ali Aden Houmed was quoted by Voice of America that "we do not have the fact of what these forces are and they are not part of us... UN and Uganda had been conducting 'a secret negotiation.'" Neither Kay nor Mahamat Saleh Annadif addressed this.

  On sanctions, after Kay recounted improvements in reporting and "information" that are underway, Inner City Press asked if the Somali letter requesting the ouster of SEMG coordinator Chopra has been withdrawn. Kay said he has not seen the letter. Well here it is: Inner City Press exclusively obtained, reported and published it. Has it been withdrawn?

Footnotes: Particularly in light of media freedom issues in Somalia -- and in Somaliland, on which the Free UN Coalition for Access has worked -- we note that the UN on April 23 automatically gave the first question to the UN Correspondents Association, a group which has tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN.

  But the question by UNCA's president included how many Burundi troops are there -- no mention of the UN's own warning about the distribution of weapons by Burundi's government to its youth wing -- and in mistaking the US Institute of Peace, where Kay spoke this week, with the International Peace Institute, most recently reviewed here and here.

 In April UNCA or the UN's Censorship Alliance has tried to privatize access to the incoming South Korean presidency of the Security Council in May, positioning itself as middle-man even after FUNCA's inquiry and RSVP find that the statement an event is for UNCA members only, or now only through UNCA, is false. Preaching press freedom from this UN is difficult. Watch this site.


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