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UN Silent on Sudan Vote Boycott Call, US' Rice on Chad and DC, But Not Corruption

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED 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.

  On January 26 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.

  Ambassador Rice 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 UN.

  Inner City Press 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 elsewhere."

  This seemed to 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

  Ambassador Rice was 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.

  She explained her 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 Mr. Nesirky:

Inner 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?

Spokesperson: 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.

And 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.

Inenr City Press: Are you referring to Mr. Jacob Loeb [Yakoblev], just to be clear who we’re talking about?

Spokesperson: 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.

And 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 appropriate action.

  But where is the US Mission to the UN on these issues? Watch this site.

* * *

For IMF, Canceling Haiti's Debt is Medium Term Goal, Outcome Uncertain, UN's IFAD, Venezuela and Taiwan Are Creditors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- While the IMF's Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn rushed out a statement that the "IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt," on Thursday morning his spokesperson Caroline Atkinson called this a "medium range" goal.

She emphasized that Strauss-Kahn cannot predict how the IMF board will vote, when it meets next week. She mentioned the outstanding bilateral loan to Haiti of Venezuela, but not Taiwan's reported $92 million loan. Taiwan is of particular interest in light of mainland China's dispatch to Haiti of a 125 member "riot squad" fomed police unit, a senior delegation there on the day of the earthquake, and a search and rescue team the day after.

  Among Haiti's creditors is the UN system's International Fund for Agricultural Development. Even as the UN has done into "Haiti only" mode for the past nine days, there's been no talk of canceling the UN's own loans to Haiti.

  Strauss-Kahn's "Marshall Plan" comments have been portrayed by some progressives -- or "anti-poverty" activists, as one reporter at the IMF's January 21 briefing phrased it -- as a victory for online activism. But Strauss-Kahn's grand statement may mean less than first appeared.

  Inner City Press submitted several questions to the IMF during its January 21 briefing, held in a new broadcast center, about Haiti as well as Romania, Iceland and Serbia. While Ms. Aktinson read out and at least purported to respond to Inner City Press' Romania question, this Haiti question was ignored:

The M-D has said "IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt." What exactly is the IMF doing, with the IADB, IFAD, Venezuela and Taiwan? When does the IMF anticipate canceling its $265 million in loans? Do any of the past conditions apply to the first $165 million?

  The IMF has in the past provided same day written responses to questions submitted but not answered at its bi-weekly briefing. That should be done today. Watch this site.

Haitian ministry

Two other unanswered questions are, "Please state the relation between the Icesave referendum and the IMF's consideration of Iceland."

"In Serbia, National Bank of Serbia governor Radovan Jelasic has said that restrictions on raises are in connection with the IMF. True?"

Note that on the IMF's outstanding $165 million loan to Haiti, reportedly the conditions included restrictions on public sector pay raises, and lifting the price of electricity.

 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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