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UN Ignores Darfur E-mail, Stonewalls on Yemen Check & Bibi "Leak"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 13 -- A full day after UN staff in Darfur were told that Ibrahim Gambari had been replaced, and Inner City Press had exclusively reported it then asked for confirmation, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman at Monday's noon briefing replied that "to the best of my knowledge," Gambari is still in charge.

  Five hours later, no clarification was received. Is there a Darfur power struggle? It would seem important to clarify this.

  But the UN often has its own reasons to leave things vague, to not answer questions or to answer questions other than those asked.

  Also on Monday, Inner City Press asked about a UN investigation into allegations its peacekeepers did nothing amid killings near Duekoue in Cote d'Ivoire.

  Five hours later, the UN replied, but about an entirely different report of a full year earlier. Inner City Press immediately reiterated and further explained its question, so far without answer.

  Then there is the run-around. Last week Inner City Press ran an exclusive story about Yemen's June 20 check to the UN for over $200,000 in dues bouncing for non-sufficient funds, such that Yemen could not vote on the Syria resolution in the General Assembly on August 3. Inner City Press published the check.

  The first two times Inner City Press asked the UN about it, the response was they'd check into it. Third time is NOT the charm: when Inner City Press reiterated the questions on Monday, deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey said only the President of the General Assembly's spokesperson could answer.

  This spokesperson replied, "please ask the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts in the Department of Management." That is part of the Secretariat. So why didn't the Secretariat's spokespeople, to whom the question has now been put for the fourth time, just answer it in the first place?

Then there is the nearly Kafkaesque (non) answer that "you have your answer." Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: on this reported trip to Iran. There’s an article in Haaretz, saying that Benjamin Netanyahu quoted from his conversation with Ban Ki-moon, and he quotes Martin [Nesirky] saying, "Ban is not in the habit of referring to private phone conversations with foreign leaders." So, can you explain a bit? Because we do get these readouts of calls — you know, they’ll put a readout saying that Ban Ki-moon spoke to X and Y — so what’s different about what happened with Netanyahu?

Deputy Spokesperson: You have the explanation right there, Matthew. Next question?

Inner City Press: Oh, because he said it was private in advance? That’s what I’m wondering.

Deputy Spokesperson: You have your answer.

   What? In fairness, one of Inner City Press' five questions on Monday was answered thusly before 5 pm:

Inner City Press: I saw that there were these comments by the Secretary-General, after he met with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, about how the two sides should work together. And I just wondered, during this trip, did he ask to meet with anyone from the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] side? And when was the last time he met with a DPRK official? If he’s calling on both sides, is he attempting to speak to both sides?

Deputy Spokesperson: I’ll have to find out when the last time he spoke to a DPRK official was. I don’t have that information with me right now, no.

  But at 5 pm on Monday, the following was provided:

As for your question on the last meeting between the Secretary-General and a DPRK official, the Secretary-General met Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Pak Gil Yon on 28 September 2011 at UN Headquarters.

  It's appreciated. So what is the batting average? Watch this site.

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