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Rice of US Thinks "Highly" of Menkerios, Ghost Tweets by UN Council, Bosnian Chaos

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 1 -- It's a new month and a new day at the UN. With France taking over the presidency of the Security Council from China, on the morning of February 1 other Council members met one by one with the presidency to discuss the month's agenda or program of work. It was not a formal or even listed Council meeting, and therefore the stakeout area was dark, with no other journalists present.

One European Ambassador told Inner City Press, "You're all alone out here." U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, on her way out, slowed and took a question from the Press.

  "What does the U.S. think of Mr. Menkerios, the new chief of the UN Mission in Sudan, UNMIS?" (Click here for Inner City Press' story over the weekend about the nomination.)

  "Highly," Ambassador Rice said. Inner City Press asked, "Haile?" -- it is Menkeios' first name. There was laughter in the half light. Ambassador Rice had been taking fire of light, including for not being present and accessible enough at the UN and Council in New York. Perhaps this is a new beginning.

Susan Rice, Stevie Wonder and UN's Ban: faux tweeters afoot?

  A response to the criticism, signed by Ambassador Rice's spokesman Mark Kornblau, has appeared online. After Mr. Kornblau unleashed buckshot at flock of "canards" -- a l'orange? one wag wanted to know -- a snarky commenter retorted, "How much do you get paid to 'pump up' her IMAGE! obviously she isn't doing anything. if she was, then reporters would write what she was doing. instead, she has her assistant write a PR piece."

But simultaneous with Ambassador Rice's exit from the Council, two tweets were posted in her new Twitter feed, noting two resolutions passed in January, and the handover to the French. Does she tweet and walk at the same time? Or, like Ban Ki-moon, is someone tweeting for her?

Footnote: Other Ambassador greeted going in to consult with the French were those of Austria and Russia -- one wanted to ask about portions of Henry Paulson's memoir, more on this soon -- but not Croatia. The Mission of Bosnia is embroiled in controversy. The new Ambassador Ivan Barbalic is said to have requested the removal or reprimand of his deputy, Mirsada Colakovic.

 But Ms. Colakovic pulled rank, and made her putative boss withdraw the request. Meanwhile the Bosnian Mission pays more rent in New York than its Balkan counterparts. If you can't run your Mission, how will you be effective on the Council? We'll see.

* * *

As Menkerios Sent to Juba from UN's Shallow Bench, Sudan's Acceptance Assessed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 31 -- Speaking at a meeting on Sudan in Addis Ababa on January 31, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that "Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari has started his intensive work. And I have the intention to appoint Haile Menkerios as head of UNMIS as of the end of February with a view to facilitate the political process."

As Inner City Press reported in June 2009 with sourcing inside Sudan's Mission to the UN, Khartoum was less than enthused by Ban's proposal of Menkerios (and Said Djinnit) to replace Rodolphe Adada in Darfur. Finally, after extensive delay, Ibrahim Gambari was given the job, with Khartoum's support.

 The UN's "shallow bench" is reflected by its continuing recycling of a small number of UN insiders to job after job -- the list would have to include Staffan de Mistura, recently given the UN's top Afghanistan post despite being called a faceless bureaucrat by the New York Times but having given a job while he was in Iraq to Ban's son in law Siddarth Chatterjee.

 Why would the Al Bashir government accept Menkerios at this time? For one thing, he resists speaking to the press. For example, when confronted with a pattern of his underling Mr. Buo hiring his relatives in the UN's Central African Republic mission, Menkerios told Inner City Press this was a management issue only.

UN's Ban and Menkerios, action on BONUCA irrregularities not shown

 "It will be responded to in a management way," Menkerios said. But in the six months since, nothing has been done. How does this relate to Ban's confidence that Sudan would accept Menkerios? 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.

* * *

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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