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At UN's Mis-Run MDGs Q&A, Key Rwanda Question Cannot Be Asked

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 26 -- The topic was the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy group, and the three stakeout speakers on Wednesday at 5 pm were to be Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Julia Gillard of Australia and Rwanda's Paul Kagame, the chairman.

But when it began, late, Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson stood in the middle between the two heads of state and apologize. Moments later, Jeffrey Sachs joined the three, and also gave an opening statement.

There should have been time for questions -- Inner City Press wanted to ask not only about the impact of the global financial downturn on the non-attainment of many MDGs, but also what President Kagame thought of countries cutting their aid to Rwanda after report of the UN Group of Experts coordinated by Steve Hege.

But none of these questions could be asked. Only two questions were taken before it ended, one from the Australian business press, as Gillard is lobbying to win a three way race for two Security Council seats with Luxembourg and Finland, and the first about "one cow per family." Basic homework could have improved this and the following stakeout.

On his way out Eliasson apologized to the Press, saying he hadn't been the one selecting or limiting the questions. President Kagame was in a rush, and it is not clear if there will be any press availability to ask about aid and M23 and Hege. So it goes at this UN.

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