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At UN Council, Nothing Is Said on Myanmar While Russia & Nigeria Oppose Guinea Meeting, Elements to the Press Are Issued

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 18, updated -- After a military dominated election in Myanmar, when the UN Security Council met about the country on November 18, some expected at least a statement to result, perhaps mixing diplomatic critique of the election with praise for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

  But when the Council session ended at 1:30 on Thursday, there was no statement. The UK presidency of the Council did not emerge to say anything, even informally. Inner City Press is told that when China said there would be no statement, even if the Council waited all afternoon, the UK and US backed down “meekly,” as the source put it.

  Inner City Press asked Chinese Permanent Representative Li Baodong as he left if there would be a statement. They are still discussing it, he replied. He said China has a long border with Myanmar and wants stability, through development. As Reuters reports, Than Shwe is already beating the drum for more investment after releasing ASSK.

  Just after the election, a representative of the Kachin National Organization Gum San Nsang told Inner City Press of problems along the border with China, which he perhaps diplomaticlly called a “good neighbor.” When Inner City Press asked about this, standing with Japanese media, Li Baodong smiled and said, “China is a good neighbor to everyone.” Then he left to host of lunch of the Council's Permanent Five members.

UN's Ban and Than Shwe, Kachin & Rohingya not shown

  Thursday afternoon, the Council has scheduled a closed door briefing about Guinea by UN envoy Said Djinnit. Inner City Press is told that not only Russia but also Nigeria opposed the idea of the Guinea meeting, Nigeria because “ECOWAS is doing something there,” one source put it.

Therefore despite the state of emergency in Guinea, the source said, France may not even be proposing a statement, only the briefing. And so far nothing on the coup attempt in Madagascar. “It was a weird session,” the source said. “Everything got blocked.” And so it goes at the UN.

Update of 4:30 pm -- to some's surprise, there were "Elements to the Press" read out by UK Deputy Permanent Representative Philip Parham, which we publish below as a public service.  A source tells Inner City Press that during the consultations, Uganda referred back to the Council's November 16 stand off on Western Sahara and said it would have been good to have had the same enthusiasm and comity being shown on Guinea. After reading the element, Parham rushed from the microphone, taking not a single question. Maybe it's a UK thing?

Elements to the Press by Philip Parham, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UK Mission to the UN on the elections in Guinea – 18 November 2010

Good afternoon,

I’m just going to let you know about the discussion which the Security Council has just had about Guinea. The members of the Security Council were briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Said Djinnit, on the situation in Guinea and the latest developments of the Presidential elections.

The members of the Security Council welcomed the holding of the run-off elections on the 7 November in Guinea and the high voter turnout. The members of the Security Council took note of the provisional results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission on the 15 November. They urged all parties to follow the existing legal procedure, resolve their differences peacefully and respect the final decision of the Supreme Court.

The members of the Security Council deplored the violence that has occurred in Guinea in the aftermath of the announcement of the results. They urged all political leaders in Guinea to refrain from any acts that could incite violence and to appeal to their supporters to remain calm. They further stressed the responsibility of national security forces and government officials to maintain public order and to protect civilians.

The members of the Security Council paid tribute to the commitment of Special Representative Djinnit and ECOWAS and its mandated facilitator, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso. They also welcomed the coherent approach of the United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS on this issue and they further welcomed the determination of interim President, General Sekouba Konate, to pursue peaceful elections in Guinea and encouraged him to continue this process until its successful conclusion in an inclusive manner across political lines. Thank you.

* * *

On W.Sahara, UN Blind As Probe Is Called For in Uganda Paragraphs, Mexico YouTube

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, November 16, updated -- As the Security Council started meeting about Western Sahara on Tuesday afternoon, all sides had and spread only limited information.

  At 4:15 p.m., Uganda's Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda told Inner City Press that his country has proposed a full Press Statement calling for an investigative team to be send to Western Sahara. "Very sketchy," he called the information the UN provided.

  Inner City Press asked on November 12 and 16 if the UN has any first hand information about the murders in the Gdeim Izik camp in El-Ayoun. No, acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq replied both times.

  On what basis then was the UN's number two peacekeeper Atul Khare rushing into the Council eight minutes late? What possible information could he provide?

   Inner City Press has heard and reported that the UN Department of Political Affairs prepared its first statement about the violence while watching YouTube videos. And DPKO?

  Due to the lack of information, several delegations said they intended to ask for an investigation team. If DPKO has no information, one said, that is not normal, something will have to be done.

  Others, including one member state joining the Council in January, said this added force to the request to be made again in April for a human rights component to the MINURSO peacekeeping mission.

  But that's four months away, and things may have changed by then. A member said that language for a proposed “elements to the press” was being floated by Uganda, but that France would strongly oppose it. The US, too, was said to not favor any outcome to the meeting.

Khare previously with Yukio Takasu, now in line for DPKO job?

Two representatives of the Polisario Front spoke to the Press during the morning, while the Council met about Sudan. They spoke of a mass grave with 34 corpses, of MINURSO peacekeepers confined to their bases, under Moroccan surveillance, using vehicles with Morocco plates.

Inner City Press at the day's noon briefing asked Haq if MINURSO had visited the seen. We have no first hand knowledge, Haq said once again. He said he didn't know about MINURSO's licence plates, nor presumably the bugging. (Bed bugs were also asked about, and Inner City Press' exclusive report of fleas in the UN was confirmed.)

One country on the Council with a particular interest is Mexico, in part because it has one of its nationals, Antonio Velazquez, hiding in the area, posting evidence to YouTube. Mexico took the lead in asking for the meeting, but doesn't want to be seen out front. If Uganda proposes something, they are prepared to support. And Austria? Watch this site.

Footnote: In other DPKO news, Inner City Press reported by Twitter on November 15 that former Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu is in line for a job as Peacekeeping Advisor at the UN. On November 16 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Haq, video here.

Update of 4:02 pm -- with the Council in closed consultations, the buzz such as there is at the stakeout involves quotes from the emergencies director of Human Rights Watch Peter Bouckaert, ranging from “We have so far only been able to confirm the death of two civilians” to “The civilian hospital in El-Ayoun was guarded by police who beat up wounded Sahrawis who came, and even Moroccan taxi drivers who brought them to the hospital.”

  Polisario says that because people were afraid to go to the hospital, the number is under counted. Proponents of the number, on the other hand, say it is hard to hide dozens of bodies. Is this round and round debate being echoed in the closed door consultations? We will try to find out.

At 4:15 p.m., Uganda's Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda told Inner City Press that his country has proposed a full Press Statement calling for an investigative team to be send to Western Sahara. "Very sketchy," he called the information the UN provided.

Update of 4:43 pm - outside the Council chamber, a non Permanent member's Perm Rep tells InnerCityPress, of Uganda's draft Press Statement on Western Sahara, “I don't think it'll come out that way.”

Update of 4:55 pm - with closed door consultations continuing, at the stakeout a video asked about by the Moroccan side, and found: (beware: violent)

With the highlighting of “bladed weapons” and abuse, it's reminiscent of the video of the violence on the Gaza flotilla. Technology and war crimes, while the UN closes its eyes.

Update of 5:09 pm - the consultations are over, there WILL be "elements to the press," not the full press statement proposed by Uganda.

Update of 6:08 pm -- Mark Lyall Grant of the UK came to the stakeout and read out the “elements to the press” reproduced below. Then as Inner City Press asked about MINURSO's lack of first hand information, Lyall Grant said “no more questions” and walked away. But as has become a pattern this month, he took not a single question.

Next came Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda, who said his country and the African Union are in favor of an investigation by the UN or an “independent force.” nner City Press asked who -- he didn't specify -- and about MINURSO's failure to go to the site. He said, “That should be answered by DPKO” - we'll be asking. The Polisario representative called MINURSO a “virtual mission... captured by Morocco.”

Morocco's Ambassador came next, speaking in Arabic. Inner City Press ran to the UN's North Lawn building for a stakeout about the G-20, at which French Ambassador Gerard Araud and his deputy were already standing, tending to their minister. Inner City Press asked about Chinese yuan, US Federal Reserve pouring out $600 billion and about IMF reform -- what that's another story. Watch this site.

These are the “Elements to the Press” read out by Mark Lyall Grant on November 16, after which he said “no more questions” --

The members of the Security Council have been briefed by the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Atul Khare, on the recent incidents in Western Sahara.

Council members deplored the violence in El Aaiun and Gdaim Izyk camp, and expressed their condolences over the deaths and injuries that resulted.

They reaffirmed their support for MINURSO and its mission.

The members of the Security Council also heard a briefing by the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy Ambassador Christopher Ross. They offered their full support for his ongoing efforts and urged the parties to demonstrate further political will towards a solution.

  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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