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As WFP's Sheeran Claws for Reappointment, of Staff Anger, Famine and Astroturf

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 14 -- Alongside Italy's political chaos, the Rome-based UN World Food Program is seeing its own fight to retain power, by Executive Director Josette Sheeran whose term is expiring.

Sources tell Inner City Press that Sheeran is having senior staff lobby Member States to make statements supporting her at the just-opening WFP Executive Board. Members of Sheeran's inner circle are pushing for an Astroturf -- fake grassroots -- staff petition to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reappoint her.

   Now more WFP money is being wasted, for Sheeran's attempted re-appointment. Sheeran planned a big 50th anniversary celebration for WFP at this Executive Board meeting.

   It is not really the 50th anniversary of the agency, as WFP did not start operations until 1963, but it is the anniversary of the signing of the Agreement to start WFP. Anyway, several officials have declined to come, or canceled -- some, sources say, not wanting to be part of Sheeran's re-election campaign.

(c) UN Photo
Sheeran gets picture from Ban, Astroturf not shown

  Ban has written to Executive Board members asking for nominations for the Executive Director, though he has not excluded reappointing Sheeran in the letter. The US has already made a submission -- with, multiple sources say, more than one name.

  As one Inner City Press source puts it, "the whole thing is turning into an embarrassing circus and Sheeran neglects the Horn of Africa and other crises like WFP's troubled budget to spend all her time campaigning." And so it goes in this UN.

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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