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Ban on Africa at UN, 10 Questions, None on Africa, Meeting Coup Leaders?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 19 -- The UN under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says it is very concerned with Africa. Over 50% of the work of the UN Security Council concerns Africa.

  But when Ban and his spokesman chose and took 10 questions on Wednesday about the upcoming General Assembly, not a single one concerned Africa.

  Afterward a UN official replied that no Africa questions were asked.

  Inner City Press had said in advance it wanted to ask a question and to be put on the list that the Office of the Spokesperson maintains. From the first question until the tenth by raised hand it sought to ask. For example:

"You spoke of the Sudans, and of your meetings with leaders. After the NAM summit, Sudan's foreign minister said you had met with Omar al Bashir, who is indicted by the ICC for genocide, about four issues. Were there four issues? What was accomplished? And next week will you be meeting with the Guinea Bissau leader who was put in by the coup d'etat in that country?"

  There are other questions that should be answered. For example, beyond Mali and the Sahel, what is the UN doing to ensure that the shelling of Kismayo in Somalia, done in conjunction with the UN funded AMISOM mission, comports at least with the laws of war?

  And, still pending after Ban's chief of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous refused to answer it not due to any lack of time, why did the UN use international funds for flight to try to recruit one Congolese militia, the Mai Mai, to fight another, the M23 mutineers?

  One continues to expect some better UN communications and even Department of Public Information strategy, both on even handedness and some commitment to independent and free press and questions, if not answers. We'll see. Watch this site.

Footnote on yet another continent: eight questions into Ban's presser, incredulous that it could reach that end without any question on Africa, Inner City Press tweeted it. Seeing the tweet, a colleague noted that there were no questions on Latin America either. Two continents, no questions. Some United Nations.

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