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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...

* * *

As Chad Says UN Destroys Airstrips, Logjam on Shakedown Street

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 17 -- In Chad, the "traffic" of the UN's peacekeeping mission is "destroying our infrastructure," Chad's Ambassador to the UN Ahmad Allam-mi told the Press on Wednesday. Inner City Press asked him about landing and other fees that Chad's Idriss Deby government had been charging international peacekeepers, and to respond to the idea that Deby's threat to throw the UN out is just a ploy to get more money. Video here, from Minute 28:41.

  Ambassador Ahmad Allam-mi replied that there are "taxes for services rendered by state companies." He called these a "royalty" and said that "there is an agreement that we signed."

  But the UN, like the European Union force before it, has never wanted to disclose how much it agreed to pay Deby. Even at Wednesday's UN noon briefing, when Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe, she did not provide an answer, or even promise one in the future. Video here.

After the noon briefing, when the Security Council suspended their meeting on Chad for a lunch break, Inner City Press asked top UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy about the alleged "destruction" of Chad's infrastructure, and whether the UN might now agree to pay more in order to keep the MINURCAT mission in place.

  "We are not there yet," Le Roy said. But are "we" getting there?

  In December 2008, Inner City Press exclusively covered a closed door meeting of Troop Contributing Countries at which European countries with notable exception of France, Chad's former colonial power, complained about high landing fees charged by Deby. Click here for that Inner City Press story.

As the mission was handed over from the European Union to the UN, it was said, Deby tried to charge the UN for infrastructure built by the EU. Now, informed sources say, Deby is at it again.

UN's Ban and Deby, payments for MINURCAT not shown

  Humanitarian groups are demanding that MINURCAT stay in place to protect their operations and civilians. As top UN Humanitarian John Holmes told the Press on Wednesday, while some NGOs won't accept escorts from armed peacekeepers, others do.

  Inner City Press asked Holmes if it would be possible to keep the mission in the Central African Republic, which it also serves, even if Chad kicks it out. No, Holmes answered. It would have to be a separate mission. He said he thinks the Central African Republic wants to keep the UN Mission.

  Ironically, if Deby's gambit results in higher payments from the UN, the Central African Republic and other hosts of peacekeeping missions would be foolish not to also try the shakedown. Watch this site.

Footnotes: in mid 2008 when Inner City Press and other UN correspondents accompanied the Security Council to Chad and elsewhere in Africa, Deby skipped a scheduled meeting with the Council. Many questioned why Deby would rebuff France, whose then Ambassador Jean Maurice Ripert was in charge of the Chad leg of the trip. Sources tell Inner City Press that Deby was four sheets to the wind, en flight back from Libya.

  After Wednesday's briefing, Ambassador Ahmad Allam-mi told Inner City Press, you try to get me in trouble by quoting my president to me. But President Deby, it appears, contains multitudes.

 Chad's press conference was stopped for two minutes as the headphones for translation did not work. Video here, from Minute 25:53.  Echoes of French Ambassador Gerard Araud's melt down at the beginning of February when the translation headsets weren't available. He demanded to konw, where are the helmets? Now some question, as Chad shakes down the UN as it did the EU, where is France?

 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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