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As Sudan Grabs Ballot Printing, UNMIS Is Only T.A., Ban Has Nothing to Say

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 15 -- The UN and its leadership have said that the elections in Sudan are a main focus for 2010, for their UNMIS mission which spends $1 billion a year.

  Yet when a major opposition party asks UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to look into and act on allegations that the printing ballots for the election was shifted from Slovenia to a government-connected printer in Sudan, UNMIS says it only provides technical assistance, and Ban's spokesman defers to UNMIS.

  Ban's spokesman on March 15 told Inner City Press, "UNMIS has a very clear mandate." But does it? Even the chief of the UN Department of Field Support has said the mandate should be expanded (or is being too narrowly read).

  Since people will take the UN presence in Sudan and partial participation in the election as some assurance against the worst of irregularities, is it appropriate for the UN to say "we only provide technical assistance"?

In Juba, registering to vote in 2009, per UN - fair ballot 2010 not shown

  Inner City Press asked for the UN Secretariat's response to Sudan's opposition

"Umma Reform and Renewal Party's... concern over alleged switching the process of printing voting slips from abroad to presses inside Sudan that belong to the NCP — a move they would lead to duplicate papers and ballot box stuffing... URRP leader Mubarak Al-Fadil said in a statement that the NEC acknowledged this with the consent of Ray Kennedy, Chief Electoral Affairs Officer for the UN Mission in Sudan...

'This requires investigation from the UN Secretary General on the actions of the UN official and his contribution towards fraud. We will submit a complaint to the UN Secretary General based on the response of the [NEC] commission memo.'... The commission said a bid for printing the voting slips was advertised and two Sudanese companies secured it and that due to time constraints one set of the cards was diverted from a Slovenian company to a Sudanese one stressing that at each step this process was made with the participation of UNMIS elections office."

Nesirky pointed to a press release by UNMIS, picked up by Sudanese state media for the proposition tha the UN is only providing "technical assitance." But Inner City Press asked, what is Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's response to the Umma Party's request, directed to him by name, for an investigation? Video here, from Minute 14:47.

  Nesirky said that "UNMIS is on the ground... they provide guidance back to headquarters." Some thought that "guidance" is supposed to come from the leadership of the Organization. The mission on the ground might feed information back to headquarters, but ultimately UN Headquarters and Ban Ki-moon are responsible, no?

  "If a specific missive has been directed to the S-G," Nesirky said, "I'm sure some response will be made." He added he was not aware of any such "missive." Umma has said it will "submit a complaint to the UN Secretary General" -- what is the protocol? Watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press asked a Sudanese government representative about the ballot printing issue, and he responded by saying that the Umma Party is mad at the UN because Ban's most recent report was "too pro government." He and Khartoum like this.

* * *

For S. Sudan Post, UN Mulled Hilde Johnson and Khare, Menkerios over Kumalo

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 22 -- How did the UN settle on Haile Menkerios as its top envoy to South Sudan? Inner City Press has been told, by an extremely well placed source, that the UN put forward other names: UNICEF's Hilde Johnson, Indian diplomat Atul Khare who served in Timor L'este, as well as "a Tanzanian." That Ms. Johnson's hat was in the ring implies she already knew she would not get the top post at UNICEF, for which the U.S. has nominated Anthony Lake.

   Also suggested to the UN for the Sudan post was former South African ambassador to the UN Dumisani Kumalo. Sudan let it be known that it would only accept an African.

  And so, the source said, Ban Ki-moon decided on Menkerios. "He is from Eritrea, but he was given the job as South African." Some say that means he cannot differ with Thabo Mbeki, former South African president and now Sudan intermediary. It also shows that the UN has very few people who understand anything about Africa, said the source.

Atul Khare and Dumisani Kumalo, Menkerios not shown

Meanwhile, now that Ibrahim Gambari is installed in the joint African Union - UN Mission in Darfur, finally the Enough Project chimes in with questions, in a column by Colum Lynch, the UN blogger at Foreign Policy. But when Inner City Press asked the Enough Project for any comment on Gambari, after he was offered but had been been confirmed for the job, the Project had no comment. On November 30, 2009 we asked

This is a request for Enough Project's position on the UN giving Ibrahim Gambari the UNAMID SRSG post, as we've exclusively reported earlier today

please email EP's position, on Mr. Gambari and how he was reportedly selected, as soon as you can for inclusion.

The response the next day:

Subj: Re: Press Q re Darfur appointment of Gambari, past deadline
From: eread [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 12/1/2009 12:32:55 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Hi Matt,

Thanks for your query. I'm sorry that most of my policy team is travelling or on vacation. We won't be able to provide anyone for an interview.

  Now, the EP's co-founder belatedly chimes in of Gambari, "it's still to be seen whether he will be able to have any impact or whether he will simply be another placeholder in a long line of people who have had almost no impact on the situation in Sudan."

  But, one observer snarked, waiting two and a half months to comment undermines an NGO's possible impact on the situation in Sudan...

 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.

* * *

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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