Obama's Speech Omits Sudan, Susan Rice Says Jobs Come First, Gration
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 28 -- Just as the motorcade of U.S. President Barack
Obama left Capitol Hill on Wednesday night after his State of the
Union speech, a coalition of Darfur activists issued a press release
expressing "disappointment that President Obama did not
highlight Darfur, Sudan or genocide prevention during his State of
the Union address.... 'We are very far from the unstinting resolve on
Sudan that President Obama promised in the campaign.'"
at the UN in New York, when U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, a "long
time friend" of Mr. Obama, stepped to the Security Council
stakeout microphone to speak about Somalia and Ivory Coast, Inner
City Press asked her about the activists' disappointment.
misreading the omission of Sudan and genocide from the lengthy speech
as reflecting a lessing of commitment on these issues by the Obama
Rice said, this is a misinterpretation. She said the speech has
correctly focused on jobs and the American economy, not every foreign
policy issue could be mentioned. She said the Administration remains
"deeply committed," and mentioned for the second time this
week the work of U.S. envoy on Sudan Scott Gration. Video here,
Rice has spoken to the press at
the UN twice this week is "something
of a record," one reporter noted. The Mission is known to have
bristled at recent
negative coverage. Inner City Press has previously
documented the fall off in media access and U.S. advocacy since Ms.
Rice arrived at the Mission, and has been told 2010 may be different.
US' Obama, Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton: no Sudan
in SOTU '10
Footnotes: on Ivory
Coast, when Inner City Press asked if the U.S. agrees with holdover
President Laurent Gbagbo about the over 400,000 names on the voter list
that he is contesting, Ambassador Rice said there was an incident of a
"false list." The UN has not acknowledged that the list is false, and
France has only said that it, like all other complaints, should be
So is it the U.S. position that the
list is false? If so, cynics might say that the U.S. backs up Gbagbo
more and more, to gain even more influence in Abidjan assuming Gbagbo
remains in power.
anti-corruption front, Inner City Press recently exposed
and got confirmed that the nephew of the UN's top envoy in Ivory Coast
then got employed by the UN system in the country, which even UN
investigators have described to Inner City Press as highly problematic.
But has the U.S. Mission said anything about this? Or about the even
longer standing nepotism
problem surrounded the UN's Congo envoy Alan Doss? We will follow
the US Mission's transcript:
City Press: On Cote d'Ivoire, does the US have a view: President
Gbagbo has said that there's almost half a million improperly
registered people and he has called for investigations. They say
that's why it's being delayed. Do you have a view as to whether that
is a legitimate claim?
just one other I wanted to ask you, the Save Darfur Coalition took
somehow umbrage that last night's State of the Union address did not
mention Darfur, Sudan or genocide prevention. Are they misreading
that? Does this reflect any lessoning of a commitment?
Rice: Absolutely not. I think if that is their interpretation I would
characterize that as a misreading. I think as all Americans saw and
all Americans feel, the President's focus last night was
appropriately, principally on jobs and the economy. And the very
concrete steps that he is taking and that he is calling on Congress
to take to put our economy back on track and put Americans back to
work. It was the right focus and clearly not every foreign policy
issue of consequence was dealt with or could have been addressed in
that context. The President is deeply committed to ending the killing
and the suffering and the genocide in Darfur, and our work here at
the United Nations and indeed the work that General Scott Gration and
that the U.S. Government is doing to try to end the conflict and
ensure the protection of civilians is as important today and
yesterday as it is any other day.
to Cote d'Ivoire, as you know the elections have been delayed
repeatedly. This is a source of real concern for the United States
and for the Security Council. There was a very unfortunate incident
in which a false voter list was released and that has set back the
process further. It is our view that the steps need to be taken by
the Ivoirian authorities to ensure that the elections happen properly
but that also the conditions for it are as such that the people of
Cote d'Ivoire can all participate, that all eligible voters are
allowed to cast their ballots, and that it happens in a transparent
and legitimate fashion.
* * *
Silent on Sudan Vote Boycott Call, US' Rice on Chad and DC,
But Not Corruption
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 26 -- In the run up to elections in Sudan, the SPLM
rebels have called for a boycott of voting in South Kordofan state.
Inner City Press asked
UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky on January 25 for
the UN's response.
Mr. Neskirky replied, "I’m sure my
colleagues on the ground are aware of it, and we’ll need to get
full guidance from them on that." But 24 hours later, no UN
"guidance" had been provided.
following UN Security Council consultations on the subject, Inner
City Press asked U.S. Permanent Representative Susan Rice what the
she makes of the SPLM call for a boycott, due they say to problems
with the census. Video here,
from Minute 4:05.
replied that there are unresolved or unimplemented parts of the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including how to deal with the census.
She said it "merits the close attention of the parties." If
the lack of UN response or guidance for more than 24 hours is any
guide, perhaps it merits more "close attention" from the
also asked Ambassador Rice about Chad's statement that it does not
want the UN's MINURCAT peacekeeping force extended when it expires in
March. She replied that there have been such "reservation"
about the continuation of UN peacekeeping presence in Chad "and
refer to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where President Joseph
Kabila pushed to limit the mandate extension of MONUC to a mere five
months. Some say Chad's interest is more monetary. We'll see.
Susan Rice at the stakeout, neither the US nor UN
speaks on corruption
asked about a recent piece
by the spokesman for her predecessors John
Bolton and Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Grenell. She said she hadn't
read it, but rattled off Security Council votes taken in 2009.
three days a week in Washington DC as a product of being in the
Cabinet and National Security Council. More recent family health
issues, cited to many writers by the US Mission, were not mentioned.
But while one
of the critiques is a failure of achievement on UN
reform, even as the number in investigations by the UN's OIOS had
radically declined, Ambassador Rice did not address this. More
recently, a U.S. indictment in Florida raises issues of corruption in
UN Procurement. On January 25, Inner City Press asked
City Press: There is a New York Times article that took place either
Friday or Saturday with a headline “Contractor charged with trying
to get corruption from UN procurement” but the actual indictment,
USA Vs. Bistrong, seems to indicate that the contractor actually got
what he was looking for, that is he was able to influence the bidding
practice within the UN. I just wondered whether, in response to
these allegations, the UN is going to conduct its own investigations,
whether through that OIOS unit or otherwise?
Well, the Office of Internal Oversight Services has completed an
investigation into a matter where many of the facts at issue here
were with respect to Mr. Bistrong. And I think you can expect a
report from OIOS. It’s forthcoming.
while the criminal information refers to a UN agent, the United
Nations considers this person to be an individual already
investigated by the United Nations, who has been separated from
service and convicted by the United States authorities. And the
United Nations will, however, confirm with United States authorities
to ensure that there are no other UN personnel implicated.
City Press: Are you referring to Mr. Jacob Loeb [Yakoblev], just to
be clear who we’re talking about?
I’m telling you what I have here. I can also give you a couple of
other details. The events reported in the press refer to actions
which occurred in 2001 to 2006. And since 2006 procurement processes
have been tightened to ensure the bid-rigging and bribery described
in the criminal information are no longer possible. The UN
Procurement Division (UNPD) believes that the allegations refer to
persons who are no longer employed by the United Nations.
the Procurement Division is aware of the issues referred to in the
criminal information filed on 22 January 2010 against Richard T.
Bistrong. And in consultation with the Office of Internal Oversight
Services (OIOS) and Office of Legal Affairs, the Procurement Division
is reviewing the matter to identify what actions are warranted. And
also, following a review, existing or prospective procurement vendors
will be referred to the Senior Vendor Review Committee for
where is the US
Mission to the UN on these issues? Watch this site.