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Ban's UN Fetes Africa But Gave Sahel to Italy, W. Africa to EU, Maged in Defense

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 16 -- As the UN trumpeted its Africa Week on Tuesday, Inner City Press asked the UN's Special Advisor on Africa, Egypt's former Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, to respond to criticism that for example the UN's top envoys in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and now the Sahel are all Europeans, that Tanzanian Asha Rose Migiro was replaced as Ban Ki-moon's Deputy by Jan Eliasson of Sweden, and USG Tibaijuka taken out. Video here, from Minute 23.

  Maged Abdelaziz, whose taking of the OSSA post also drew criticism from the UN African Group directly to Ban Ki-moon, offered an on-camera defense, initially of Eliasson.

  He said Eliasson has a "genuine passion for Africa," that he has traveled with Eliasson in Africa and will do so again in mid-November, to Addis Ababa. OK, but what about the West Africa envoys, and Romano Prodi for the Sahel, being paid as a full time Under Secretary General while working from his native Italy?

  Maged Abdelaziz said the UN is a "multicultural organization," and that it should not be expected that all its envoys to Africa would be Africans.

  He rattled off other posts held by Africans: UNFPA, UNAIDS -- whose chief, at least according to the UN, is from France -- and the threatened with merger mandates of children and armed conflict and sexual violence in conflict.

  To list someone he didn't mention, there is Adam Dieng in the Genocide Prevention job (rather than DGACM, which has been given for now to a Belgian, holding the post for someone else in the future).

  OK, but why was Ian Martin given Libya, and then Prodi the Sahel? Or Bert Koenders given Cote d'Ivoire? To what end?

  Inner City Press also asked about Sudan and South Sudan, and NEPAD's Ibrahim Assane Mayaki replied that the government in Juba invited NEPAD to help design their development plan. For Inner City Press' piece on the Sudans, from later in the day, click here.

   During the press conference, an 80 page "NEPAD Guide 2012" was distributed. There is a section on water -- praising Rio Tinto.

   There is a full page devoted to "General Electric in Africa." Both are listed as "Platinum Members" in the back; one of the Corporate Members is Citigroup, whose former chief of Africa (and Europe and the Middle East) Michael Corbat replaced Vikram Pandit on Tuesday. Multicultural, indeed...

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