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For Ban's Fishy Envoy Rejected in Yemen, No Public  Financial Disclosure

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 29, updated -- On Yemen, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on April 25 named Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed to replace Jamal Benomar as envoy.

  Three times Inner City Press had asked the Office of the UN Spokesperson why Ould Cheikh Ahmed is not listed on Ban's webpage of public financial discloure and to say, yes or no, if he has an interest in a business which received funding from the Gulf. Three times the Office of Spokesperson promised to look into and give an answer, but never did. This is Ban's UN.

Update: Speaking at NYU on April 29, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said he think Yemen talks will be reconvened in Geneva by the UN. We hope to have more on this.

  On April 28, Inner City Press asked again:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask on the new Yemen Special Adviser, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed, there was this understanding of why on the page of the Secretary-General there's no public financial disclosure.

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq:  Regarding that, we did check with the ethics office, and he has made available his disclosure in line with the existing rules and procedures, and so he is up to date on those.  There are times when for… for a variety of different reasons people's disclosures may not be on the website.

Inner City Press:  But is he one of the officials that's decided to not make even the summary public?  I want… because when the name is listed, there’s a checkbox…

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  I've said what I have to say on that, but he has made his disclosures in line with the appropriate rules and regulations.

Inner City Press:  And also Stéphane had said that he would check whether a letter was received by the Office of the Secretary-General from a number of parties in Yemen concerning the appointment of this new envoy.  Did he do that?  Have you received that letter?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't know.  This was when?

Inner City Press:  It was on Friday, I believe, that I asked him and he said he would check.  The reports are that the… a variety of the parties in Yemen wrote a letter about the process of replacing Mr. Benomar.  And I wanted to obviously just to know if you got it…

Deputy Spokesman:  Certainly… In the day after you asked, we announced the appointment, so that is part of our answer. And with that, let me bring our guest. 

 So, none of the public financial disclosure which Ban talked so much about. Why not?

 On April 24, Inner City Press had asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Question:  Okay.  I'm also informed of a letter from political parties in Yemen, including those representing Houthis and others, directed at the Secretary-General making two requests.  One, that Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed not be named as a replacement to Mr. [Jamal] Benomar and that someone be appointed or retained who actually they will speak with.  And I wanted to know… you may not know of this letter yet, but I'm reliably informed it is either there or on its way…

Spokesman:  All right.  I will look for the letter.

Question:  And I guess my question would be, do you… has the Secretary-General… since we've already… we've heard from some of the ambassadors from the Security Council that he's put forward a name.  Did he put any effort to speak to the parties on the ground in Yemen, the actual Yemenis?

Spokesman:  I think the… when we're ready to announce the person, we will.  Obviously, for a… an appointment as delicate as this… as this ongoing… to represent the Secretary-General in this ongoing crisis, it is normal to have as broad of a consultation as possible, and what is obviously extremely important is that once that envoy is named, that adviser is named, that all the parties give him access and engage with him.

Question:  If you get the letter, will you squawk it?  Does it mean that these parties that wrote…

Spokesman:  I think…

Question: …once consulted…

Spokesman:  It's an ongoing humanitarian crisis.  It's an ongoing conflict.  And we are trying to get the political process back on track.  So we'd like to have a special envoy as soon as… a Special Adviser as soon as possible, and again hope that all the parties engage with him.

Question:  Didn't you have one? That's my question.  Didn't you actually have a Special Adviser?

Spokesman:  Yes, we have Mr. Benomar…

Question:  Is it your understanding that he's entirely unwilling to continue in the post?

Spokesman:  Well, I think he's… he's… he's expressed his desire to move on and, as we said, we are… we're in the process of naming somebody shortly.

   No response about the letter, either. This does not bode well.

  After Saudi Arabia was allowed to oust UN mediator Jamal Benomar for being insufficiently supportive of its airstrikes, the UN is being promoted, again, as an honest broker.  How so, when the UN is UNtransparently naming as a replacement mediator an individual who previously failed in Yemen, refusing to make public financial disclosure?   How weak and untransparent is today's UN?  It it apparently considering appointing as replacement envoy to Yemen a partial individual whom one side has indicated it would not speak with.


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