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At UN, Ban Meets Burundi for 8 Minutes, France for 19, Egypt on Journalists?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 4 -- When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held six photo-ops and meetings with new Ambassadors to the UN on September 4, the shortest meeting at a mere eight minutes was with Burundi's Albert Shingiro.

  To Inner City Press, which throughout this year has here and elsewhere covered the UN's belated inquiry into complaints to Ban that Burundi's ruling party was arming its youth wing, and then the expulsion of a UN staffer from the country, that the meeting with Burundi would be shortest seemed strange. Shouldn't Ban have something to say or ask about?

  With France's new Ambassador Francois Delattre, by contrast, Ban met for 19 minutes.

Delattre was accompanied by his spouse, so that might be some explanation. But Ban met with both Boguslaw Winid of Poland and Laura Elena Flores Herrera of Panama for 12 minutes; Costa Rica's Juan Carlos Mendoza Garcia also had a longer meeting than Burundi. Why?

  With Egypt's new Ambassador Amr Abde-latif Aboulatta, the Free UN Coalition for Access wonders whether the plight of jailed journalists, including but not limited to #FreeAJstaff, was raised. Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric was spotted on the 38th floor at the end of the photo ops, but was not present during the meetings.

   Instead it was Ban's outgoing Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez Taranco (he is only shifting to Peacebuilding, under Ban's so-called Five Year rule of mobility). So what could be discussed for 19 minutes with Gerard Araud's successor Francois Delattre, from whom we hope to hear more soon, or for eight minutes with Burundi's Albert Shingiro?

  At the September 4 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: in Burundi, a coalition of opposition parties wrote to the Secretary-General in February with the allegation that the ruling party was arming its youth wing. And I know there have been developments since then, but the new development is that the head of the opposition parties is being… faces five years in jail for having written a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about these troubling obligations. And I wanted to know what — almost in the context of kind of witness protection or whistleblower rights — what is the UN's response to someone facing jail time for raising an allegation like this to the Secretary-General?

Deputy Spokesman Haq: I will check on that and we will try to get back to you.

  Five hours later, including after Ban's meeting with Burundi's Albert Shingiro, there was no answer. Watch this video - and watch this site.


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