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Prodi To Work "Full Time From Italy" on Sahel and Mali, Dolce Vita?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 9 -- Once Romano Prodi was confirmed Tuesday as the UN's Sahel and Mali envoy, despite the pre-existing dominance of Europeans holding the UN's top posts in Africa, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky more about Prodi's post.

   Nesirky said it is a full time, Under Secretary General level job, and that Prodi will be based in Italy.

    Afterward, a Wester African Permanent Representative expressed amazement to Inner City Press at this.

   A wag - not him - wondered if Prodi will be so well paid for working from his house, a UN dolce vita or sweet life. Kofi Annan lived in Geneva when he took the six month Syria envoy post - but Geneva is a UN city. Brahimi moved to New York (or now Cairo) from Paris where he resides.

    Prodi will work from Italy? Where - from UNICRI, one of the little known UN offices in Italy? Or the log or logistics base at Brindisi?

  Already, as noted, the top posts in the UN missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire all went to Europeans, the last to Dutchman Bert Koenders.

  Many were less than impressed with Prodi's report on the "modalities for support to African Union peacekeeping operations" which he was paid to oversee; to be fair, some perhaps liked it, or him.

  Inner City Press covered Prodi's craven UN job search in 2008, when he and his entourage met with none other than Laurent Gbagbo on the terrace of what was then the Delegate's Lounge. Click here for that.

  Now, ironically, the UN to the benefit of Koender's mission and France's project is accusing Gbagbo supporters of trying to recruit groups from Mali to somehow come destabilize Cote d'Ivoire -- as if outlawing even the opposition's newspapers didn't do a good enough job of destabilizing.

  Why did Ban Ki-moon dole out this job to Prodi? Why are all of his West Africa Special Representatives from Europe?

  Some go further and continue to ask, why did he replace a Deputy Secretary General from Tanzania with one from Sweden -- and then not make up for it, even giving the Special Adviser on Africa post to the former Egyptian Ambassador under Mubarak, Maged Abdelaziz?

  This last triggered the anger of many African countries, not least from the South. But Ban Ki-moon, as one source put it to Inner City Press, does not seem to take these things seriously. Hence Prodi. Watch this site.

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