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A Tale of Three Leaders, Liberia Comes to Praise and Iran and Sudan to Bury the UN

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

  UNITED NATIONS, September 19 -- Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on Tuesday sung the praises of UN. To the General Assembly, she thanked the "men and women of the United Nations Military Mission in Liberia [who] have largely comported themselves well." The reference was to sexual exploitation and abuse. There are questions about UNMIL's role, or lack of it, in Liberia's security breakdown, which has led the government to call for vigilantes.

  At a press conference Tuesday, Inner City Press asked President Johnson-Sirleaf about this, and about UNDP reportedly not paying wages due to Liberians. Video here. She said that the vigilante comment -- which was made by her Justice Minister -- has since been clarified, that the call was for community groups to keep their eyes open and call police. Oh.

Prez Johnson-Sirleaf

  Meanwhile, at least two other high profile speakers at the UN on Tuesday took a different approach. Iran's President delivered a detailed critique of the current Security Council, saying that because of the veto rights of five countries, the Council protects only the powerful, while "children are killed in alleyways and streets." Notably, Iran's president and U.S. Senator Norm Coleman have called the Security Council outmoded, a relic in need of expansion.

   Sudan's president Al-Bashir Tuesday told reporters, "Everyone knows who is the real power behind the transition to a UN force... It's an attempt to dismember Sudan" and divide it into five pieces. Then, when asked about all those demonstrating under a banner of "Save Darfur," President al-Bashir said that "Zionist organizations organized the rallies." To that, one CNN reporter followed-up, talking over Bloomberg and other media, until President Al-Bashir opined that maybe CNN is part of the conspiracy as well.

  Meanwhile, General Assembly spokeswoman Sainte informed Inner City Press that the Thai prime minister had cancelled, with only an hour to spare, his appointment to speak to the GA -- while the coup goes on. And, Somalia was bounced from Wednesday into next week due to the substitution away from the head of state, despite the explosive attempt on his life. Tough crowd...

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