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As UN Envoy Chased from Guinea Bissau, Cover of Debriefing, Echoes of Sierra Leone

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 7 -- After the coup in Guinea Bissau, the UN has been slow and then silent in criticizing it. Emboldened, the post coup leaders have now in essence thrown the UN Envoy Joseph Mutaboba out of the country.

  This is how several countries' Permanent Representatives have described it to Inner City Press. But, tellingly, it is not how the UN describes it.

   The UN says it has Mutaboba back in New York for de-briefing. Inner City Press has requested a stakeout for questions and perhaps answers.

  Here was the Q&A at Friday's UN noon briefing:

Inner City Press: on Mr. Mutaboba, it seems that he, before he left Guinea-Bissau, let it be known that he was basically being in essence, PNG-ed [Persona non Grata] in the sense that the coup leaders or the post coup Government there has said that he hasn’t accepted him as the leader and that, when he left, he said that 'probably I am not coming back.' So what would you say to those who have said that this is a situation of the UN withdrawing or bringing home early somebody who wasn’t liked by the Government where he was?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Matthew, four years is considered a fairly good run as SRSG, especially in a difficult environment. And, I think Mr. Mutaboba is ending his stay in Guinea-Bissau very honourably and very well having done an excellent job.

Inner City Press: Do you think that given the issues, if he is here, debriefing and all this, maybe it is possible to get some either a stakeout or some kind of a media availability for him to reflect on his four years and where he thinks it's going

Deputy Spokesperson: With respect to Mr. Mutaboba, I believe we can ask and see if we can do a stakeout.

  Inner City Press has previously asked Mutaboba why he put up a drug kingpin in the UN compound there. But now he has been PNG-ed, just as Michael von der Schulenburg was from Sierra Leone.

  On that, after some initial expressions of concern, for example from UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant on March 4, the Security Council recently lavished praise on the country and its election, with no mention of the PNG or weapons purchase prior to the elections.

  So how long will it be, some wonder, until the Guinea Bissau coup leaders get similar UN praise? Watch this site.

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