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As Brahimi Quits, Questions on Return to Algeria Twice Banned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 13 -- After Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi publicly resigned at the UN on May 13, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric selected who could ask him questions, with a decided slant. After Brahimi left, Inner City Press asked at the subsequent noon briefing if Brahimi will return to work for Algeria, specifically as a Bouteflika deputy.

  Dujarric said that should and could be posed directly at Brahimi at his question and answer media stakeout later in the day. Video here.

    Inner City Press waited. But when Brahimi came to the stakeout, Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq selected essentially the same questioners as Dujarric picked for Brahimi at noon. What was the point? Beyond propaganda? 

  In the earlier session, Inner City Press, which on May 3 reported that former Tunisian foreign minister and Ben Ali associate Kamel Morjane was being vetted to replace Brahimi, had this and another question to ask. Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, however, made a selection of questioners which left these out, while including the so-called “Holy Seat” of the UN Correspondents Association, become the UN's Censorship Alliance.

  Brahimi was not asked about his future plans; Ban was not asked about vetting Morjane. After the two left, Dujarric continued taking questions along the same line. When called on, Inner City Press asked about Morjane and this: is Brahimi planning to take a role in Algeria once his resignation is effective on May 31?

  Dujarric said that should be asked to Brahimi -- what a surprise -- and then said without knowing it to be true that it could be asked later in the day to Brahimi after he briefs the Security Council. As he should know there are deadlines: including two more questions pending to be written about shortly.

  On this, what sources tell Inner City Press concerns Brahimi working with Bouteflika in Algeria. Out of respect for Brahimi, Inner City Press didn't reported it, wanted to let Brahimi himself address it on camera at this resignation press availability. But no. Watch this site.

Footnote: the debate seems to be whether Brahimi's replacement should "be an Arab" -- if so, North Africa is seen as the likely but shallow pool -- or, say, Javier Solana. We'll have more on this -- and on Dujarric contradicting one of the publications he called on for Ban and Brahimi, that the UN's Martin Griffith has himself been Banned from Damascus....


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