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As Tanzanian Says Migiro Out as UN DSG, Malcorra "Awkward" Amid S. Sudan Scandal?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- For months Asha-Rose Migiro has tried for a second term as Deputy Secretary General of the UN, asking the African Group of nations to pressure Ban Ki-moon to keep her on. But just as Ban ignored African Group requests to appoint a full time Special Advisor on Africa, now Tanzanian officials are saying Migiro is "coming home;" Ban has rebuffed Migiro's and the African Group's requests.

  Inner City Press has for months, including specifically on November 25, been reporting that Ban had tabbed former corporate executive Susana Malcorra to replace Migiro.

  The argument made to Inner City Press by Ban insiders is that Malcorra is still a "woman of the developing world," being from Argentina. As if to prove it, in late December Malcorra incongruously took on roles during late night budget negotiations for the developing world Group of 77 and China.

  But events this year in South Sudan, where as head of the UN Department of Field Support Malcorra was largely in charge of ensuring continuous coverage for the UNMISS peacekeeping mission there of military helicopters, make handing Migiro's post to Malcorra awkward, several member states told Inner City Press.

  The Russians told the UN in mid November that they would no longer fly their helicopters in South Sudan. Malcorra's DFS belatedly handed the Russians a substantially amended Letter of Assist, which the Russians rejected and never signed.

  When violence broke out in Jonglei State, and as they had said the Russian helicopters would not fly, attempts were made by the UN to still claim they had responded appropriately.

  UNMISS deputy Lise Grande held a briefing but never disclosed the lack of helicopters and of what Malcorra later described to Inner City Press on the record as "lethal assets to dissuade" attacks on civilians.

  Once Inner City Press on January 11 exclusively reported that the UN had left South Sudan without military helicopter coverage from mid November into January, pushbacks and then attempts at reputation repair began, complete with stealth interviews & spin.

  Ban in a January 18 speech put the entire blame on the Russians, saying that a Security Council member had refused to serve. Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, who repeatedly told Inner City Press that countries routinely continuing flying even with expired Letters of Assist, on January 20 answered Inner City Press that things in South Sudan were not as "smooth as we would have wanted."  So who then is responsible?

(c) UN Photo
Migiro gets handshake from incoming Malcorra, Pibor not shown

  During an otherwise quiet moment in front of the Security Council this month, the representative of another major troop contributing country complained to Inner City Press that under Malcorra DFS has gotten "very sloppy" with paperwork; the representative unprompted opined that Malcorra has been using DFS as a "springboard" to become DSG.

  "She doesn't care," the representative told Inner City Press, "Malcorra is like a bird, she if flying on. She is out of synch with what the UN is about, but so is Ban who will promote her."

  So what WAS Ms. Malcorra's role as head of DFS in the lack of military helicopters in South Sudan for more than six weeks and at what Ban called the critical moment? This is a question that should be answered, and would be answered in most well run systems BEFORE any Malcorra promotion to DSG, and without pushback against the press raising the obvious question. But is this UN a well run system? We'll see.

Footnote: perhaps because it is "awkward" to drop Migiro for Malcorra at this time, news that Malcorra would return to Tanzania came not from New York but rather the permanent secretary in the Tanzanian ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr John Haule, who said, "We have not received an official document from the UN, but I’m aware that her tenure is almost ending. She also confirmed this development on Thursday," January 19. Watch this site.

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