Thursday, February 23, 2017

After Press Freedom Meeting With Guterres, CPJ Cites Intternational Law, UN Guards Order Press Away


By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 23 – After the Committee to Project Journalists came to the UN for a meeting on the 38th floor, Inner City Press asked CPJ's Joel Simon for a summary of what had been raised. "Not yet," Simon said, as one of his escorts told Inner City Press to back away. It was a typical UN scene: a group promoting a principle outside of the UN not pursuing it inside the UN, in order to maintain access and perceived influence.

  Hours later, this was issued: "Without Borders (RSF) Secretary General Christophe Deloire and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Executive Director Joel Simon met with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres today to discuss the #ProtectJournalists campaign to appoint a UN Special Representative for the safety of journalists. David Callaway, board nominee for president of the World Editor’s Forum, part of WAN-IFRA, an early supporter of the campaign, also attended the meeting. 
"'As journalists around the world are increasingly under attack physically and verbally it is encouraging and gratifying to have this kind of support from the Secretary General,' said Joel Simon, CPJ’s Executive Director. 'We look forward to working with him to move this commitment forward.' 
"A worldwide coalition of NGOs, media outlets, journalists and prominent public figures are supporting RSF’s initiative for the creation of a Journalist Protector. CPJ, the Associated Press, WAN-IFRA, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Bangkok Post, and the Brazilian Center for Investigative Journalism are just a few of the more than 120 organizations that have joined the coalition to date.... The goal of the #ProtectJournalists campaign is to establish a concrete mechanism that enforces international law."
  But at the UN for journalists, there is no law, no due process, no appeal. And when CPJ reported on the killing of journalists, it omitted a journalist killed right under the UN's nose in South Sudan, John Gatluak (Inner City Press reported it here CPJ mentioned only Syria and the Middle East in its press release. And in its count of journalists killed in 2016, CPJ does not count for example South Sudan journalist John Gatluak, executed in the Terrain in Juba. 
The United Nations' Cammaert / cover up report on its failures in Terrain also does not mention Gatluak. It's like the UN Censorship Alliance. Click here for video of Inner City Press' live-Periscope camera being grabbed, thrown and smashed by "journalists" on December 16 on Wall Street. Who watches the watchers?
  It is the same as groups speechifying about accountability not holding the UN to task for killing 10,000 Haitians with cholera, nor for the lack of prosecutions for peacekeepers' sexual abuse. The UN talks about the rule of law but does not abide by it.
    CPJ, including Simon and his deputy Robert Mahoney, were informed in detail of the UN's lack of due process for the press - but they have done nothing. One year ago, covering the UN corruption scandals which have resulted in two sets of indictments for bribery involving the UN, Inner City Press was ordered to leave the UN Press Briefing Room by then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
  Other correspondents were allowed to stay in the briefing room, which Dujarric had "lent" them. But he insisted that Inner City Press leave. Video here.
  Inner City Press asked to see any paperwork that the event was closed; none was provided. Inner City Press stated that if a single UN Security official asked it to leave, it would. Finally one guard came and said Dujarric wanted it to leave. 
  Inner City Press immediately left, uploaded the already live-streamed Periscope video, and continued digging into the corruption that's resulted in the indictment for bribery and money laundering of Ban Ki-moon's brother Ban Ki Sang and nephew Dennis Bahn.
  But three weeks afterward, without a single conversation or opportunity to be heard, Ban's Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach ordered Inner City Press to leave the UN, after ten years, on two hours notice. Order here.
   This was enforced, as Inner City Press worked on its laptop at the UN Security Council stakeout, by eight UN Security officers led by Deputy Chief McNulty, who tore Inner City Press accreditation badge off its chest and said, "Now you are a trespasser." Audio here.
  Inner City Press was marched down the escalator and around the UN traffic circle, without even its coat which was up in its longtime office. It was pushed out of the gate and its laptop, in a bag, was thrown on the sidewalk and damaged.
  The next work day when Inner City Press arranged for a fellow journalist to sign it in as a guest so it could cover the Security Council, UN Security official Matthew Sullivan said it was Banned from UN premises worldwide. Audio here.
   After three days covering the UN from the park in front in the sleet, and articles like this one, Inner City Press re-entered with a "non-resident correspondents" pass - to which it is still, more than eleven months later, confined.
  The then-US Mission under Samantha Power and Isobel Coleman, even petitioned by the DC-based Government Accountability Project, did nothing. Indirectly, a offer was made of an upgraded pass if Inner City Press would agree to a gag order, to which it would not and will not agree.
  There has been no UN opportunity for appeal or reinstatement. After having five boxes of Inner City Press' investigative files thrown on the sidewalk in April, Gallach is giving its office to an Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom which rarely comes in, a correspondent Sanaa Youssef who had yet to ask a single question. 
Her only claim is that she was once, decades ago, a president of the United Nations Correspondents Association, the group to which Duajrric "lent" the UN Press Briefing Room, without notice or written record, on January 29, 2016. 
 Even as the scope of Ban Ki-moon's corruption is being exposed upon his return to South Korea, here, his successor Antonio Guterres has yet to reverse this year of censorship and no due process. On January 6 Dujarric and Gallach led him on a tour of... the UN Correspondents Association, which now wants him again in their clubhouse. (More on this to follow.)
 On January 27 as Inner City Press moved to cover Guterres at the UN's Holocaust event, it was targeted by UN Security and told it could not proceed without a minder, who did not appear for over 15 minutes. 
  The harassment continued through the day, as Inner City Press exposed more corruption, including involving Jeffrey Feltman (Dujarric told ICP its questioning was "despicable"), and the use of military contingents involved in war crimes in Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping, as criticized by new US Ambassador Nikki Haley.

 All of this must change. This is a scam, and censorship: the UN's Censorship Alliance. We will have more on this.

IMF Tells ICP No Talks with Nigeria of Program, Day After UN Sounded Alarm


By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 9– When the International Monetary Fund's spokesperson Gerry Rice took questions at the IMF's biweekly media briefing on February 23, Inner City Press asked about the alarm sounded the day before by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres about humanitarian crises in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Rice answered Inner City Press, specifically on South Sudan and Nigeria.

  Inner City Press asked, "On February 22 the United Nations appealed for $4.4 billion for humanitarian crises in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Please state what the IMF is currently doing with regard to these four countries. In Nigeria, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun has said the country will not apply for an IMF program. What does this say about Nigeria, the UN's appeal, or the IMF?"
  Rice confirmed that there are no negotiations with Nigeria for a program - this while the UN says there is a humanitarian crisis there. He cited the upcoming 2019 elections. Rice said the UN is offering help to the South Sudan authorities, and that famine would exacerbate suffering.
  Inner City Press also asked, and we hope to update on: "In Somalia, Samba Thiam is quoted that the IMF “is also assisting the central bank with regulation and supervision of the financial sector to open it to new investors.” Please elaborate, including with respect to the KCB Group Ltd. and Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd.

"In Gambia, Ulrich Jacoby has spoken (on IMF.org) of “possible forms of IMF support.” Please elaborate, including with respect to any audit of expenditures during the rule of Yahya Jammeh.

"Bosnia's Republica Srbska's finance minister Zoran Tegeltija has been quoted that the IMF will next month “terminate its current three-year funding arrangement with Bosnia if politicians aren't able to reach a consensus on fulfilling prior actions they committed to in the letter of intent submitted to the IMF last year.” Is that true? Please comment."

Back on February 9, Inner City Press asked Rice about Yemen, South Sudan, Ukraine's retirement age, and accountability for Mozambique's undisclosed loans.
 On Yemen, Inner City Press after asking about a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and being referred by the UN to the World Bank asked the IMF: "does the IMF play any role in the payment of salaries to civil servants in the north?
After the February 9 briefing, an IMF spokesperson provided this response to Inner City Press: "The IMF works with other International finance institutions and donors and the Central Bank of Yemen to ensure that salaries are paid to all Yemeni public sector workers and to ensure that food imports are sufficient to avoid a humanitarian crisis." 
  On South Sudan, after the briefing an IMF Spokesperson provided this response to Inner City Press:
"The Resident Representative and staff at the IMF office in Juba were evacuated in July 2016 because of the conflict and a deteriorating security situation. Fund missions remain suspended.

"The Fund has been supporting South Sudan with policy advice and technical assistance. A Fund team met the authorities in Nairobi in December to discuss policies to stabilize the economy. Before the suspension of missions in July last year, the capacity building program with the country provided support in the areas of macroeconomic framework, central banking, foreign reserves management, monetary and exchange rate operations, banking supervision, public financial management, non-oil taxation, and statistics.

"On economic outlook, South Sudan’s key challenges are to stabilize the economy while achieving lasting peace through an inclusive political process. On the economy, urgent steps are required to address the economic crisis including by restoring fiscal discipline, tightening monetary policy to fight high inflation, and ensuring proper management of oil revenues. Beyond economic stabilization, the government needs to shift spending away from security-related spending towards investments in social and infrastructure development."
  Also on February 9, Inner City Press asked the IMF: "Ukraine Social Minister Andriy Reva has expressed opposition to, or disagreement with IMF urging, the raising of the retirement age. What is the relation of that to further disbursements?"
   Rice replied that Ukraine's authorities have agreed to reforming the pension system to mkae it "more modern," including consideration of "all options."
  Inner City Press also asked, "On Mozambique, please provide IMF's response to the critique that a new IMF program should only be agreed when all those responsible for the undisclosed debts are held to account, including criminally, meaning both officials in Mozambique who signed-off on the loans as well as the banks which facilitated the irresponsible lending, and that the burden of payment must not fall on the Mozambican people."
  Rice referred to the ongoing audit - we'll have more on this.
   Back on January 26 when the International Monetary Fund's deputy spokesperson William Murray took questions at the IMF's biweekly media briefing on January 26, Inner City Press asked him about Somalia and the UN, as well as Mozambique and Ghana.
 Inner City Press asked:
"The UN's envoy to Somalia Michael Keating recently said in New York that the IMF is urging the government in Mogadishu to raise revenue, by means of a tax on 'ICT' or telecom/mobile phones. Is that accurate? Please explain the IMF's position."
  After the briefing, at which Inner City Press' Mozambique question was answered, an IMF spokesperson provided this on Somalia:
“Somalia has one of the lowest revenue to GDP ratios in the world. Increasing revenue mobilization, from a low tax base, is critical to Somalia’s economic and social development goals. To that end, the authorities and IMF staff reached an understanding on the need to collect higher nominal revenues in 2017 compared to those in 2016.  The ultimate goal is to progressively restore, over time, revenue to GDP to a level comparable to peer countries.

In 2017, the authorities plan to start implementing a more formal tax system, which is projected to increase tax revenues from about 1.4 percent of GDP in 2016 to 2.0 percent of GDP in 2017. A critical element of these revenue measures -- based on current law which the authorities will start implementing -- is revenue from the telecom sector, about $24.5 million in total in 2017. This is up from the negotiated tax of $5.0 million agreed for 2016. The projection comprises of about $12–14 million from taxes on corporate profits and $10–12 million from sales taxes. Additional revenue collection from the telecom sector could be achieved but will require significant improvements in revenue administration and tax collection, while improving security for telecom operators.”
  During the January 26 briefing:
"On Mozambique and its recent default, please describe the timing of the IMF's review of a program and its relation to the ongoing audit, and its status."
  Murray replied at the briefing that the IMF remains engaged with the authorities and if following the ongoing independent audit. He reiterated the IMF's policy that it will only lend into arrears if the member is pursuing "appropriate policies" and making a good faith effort with its private creditors.
  On Ghana, Inner City Press had asked "given that President Nana Akufo-Addo has promised to cut taxes, is the IMF open to renegotiating the current program?"

  Murray said the program is expected to continue and that there will be an IMF visit at the beginning of February. 
   Murray was asked about the new US administration and noted that nominee Mnuchin has not yet been confirmed; he said the US office in the IMF is "operating as far as I can tell." Tweeted photos here.
  He cited uncertainty in and for Mexico, given the US and trade policy. He responded to a question about the (end of) TPP. 
Back on January 17 when the IMF's Tim Calen took questions about Saudi Arabia's economy, Inner City Press asked him:
"What has been the impact of the Saudi-led Coalition's Yemen campaign on the Saudi economy, and what is the IMF's projection?"
  IMF Senior Communications Officer Wafa Amr read out the question, between oil-heavy Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, and Callen diplomatically said that the Saudi budget document published at the end of 2016 showed military over-spending. Tweeted video here.
  Callen said he doesn't have the information to link that to the military campaign against Yemen. But what else would it be?
 On January 12 with IMF spokesman Gerry Rice held a on- and off-line press briefing, the first one in more than a month, Inner City Press submitted questions about Yemen, Chad, Sri Lanka, Mozambique and structural adjustment, as well as asking for updates on South Sudan and Burundi.
 Now on January 13 there is this, on Yemen, to Inner City Press from an IMF spokesperson:
"The humanitarian and economic fallout from conflict is devastating; the conflict has weakened significantly economic activity, destroyed infrastructure, and constricted availability of basic goods and services. We continue to work with international partners and donors to help assure the availability of basic food and to facilitate resuming payment of civil servants as well as financial support to the poorest.  The IMF stands ready to re-engage as soon as the conflict is resolved to help restore macro stability, rebuild institutional capacity, and jump-start growth."
  It's said that UN enovy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with Yemen's Central Bank Governor... in Saudi Arabia.
   The IMF has, a day later, not yet answered questions on Chad or Mozambique. Inner City Press has asked:
In Mozambique it has been suggested that the government could simply not recognize the guarantees for the $2 billion “secret” debt that would be enough  to “reduce the total foreign debt enough to allow negotiation with the IMF.” What is the IMF's response?
“MF-led structural adjustment reforms increase protest risks in Chad” - what is the IMF's response?
In Sri Lanka,  weeks after the IMF indicated the country's foreign reserves were below comfortable levels the government now plans to try to raise $1.5 billion through a domestic bond sale. Does the IMF think this is a good move?
On IMF conditions reducing health care spending, the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine “found that for every additional IMF condition that is 'binding' - i.e. failure to implement means automatic loan suspension - government health expenditure per capita in the region is reduced by around 0.25%.” What is the IMF's response?
Well, what is it?  Rice on January 12 said the IMF's Cyprus resident representative is at the UN's Geneva talks, and previewed a presentation by David Lipton on "Africa," and a trip there by Christine Lagarde, including to the Central African Republic, locus of French impunity. Watch this site.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

On Western Sahara, After Quietly Meets, Answer on How Many Staff Back Is "I Don't Remember"


By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 22 – Even after Morocco threw portions of the UN Peacekeeping mission out of Western Sahara, when the UN Security Council meets on the topic it is not listed on their agenda and thus far there has been no outcome. Permanent member France has ensured it remain this way, and has managed to get its fifth national in a row put atop UN Peacekeeping, to succeed Herve Ladsous who again and again told Inner City Press, I don't answer your questions, until it was evicted from its office and remains restricted by Spain's Cristina Gallach. Last week Inner City Press asked what to expect from Antonio Guterres, see below. 

 On the afternoon of February 22, with Western Sahara on the Security Council's agenda, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre how many of the ousted UN staff are still out, and about the meeting. He said to Ask his colleague, who would attended, joking "cheap shot." Video here.
 At the Security Council stakeout, at least four Moroccan diplomats held vigil, including the sponsor of UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' Eric Tistounet's book party. 
After cover up man Herve Ladsous left, it was said the President of the Council would speak at the stakeout.  When he did, Inner City Press asked for a summary, at least how many of the ousted UN staff had returned. I don't remember, was the answer. Video here.
And they wonder why UN Peacekeeping has become a joke.
Yesterday the following letter went to the Security Council:
"H.E. Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko
Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations
President of the Security Council of the United Nations

New York, 21 of February 2017

Excellency

On behalf of the Frente POLISARIO, the legitimate representative of the people of Western Sahara, I am writing to you in your capacity as the President of the Security Council of the United Nations to place on record and on the eve of the meeting of the Council the following:

1.It is evident today, almost one year after the adoption of Security Council resolution 2285 (2016), that MINURSO’s international and civilian personnel who were expelled by Morocco in flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions and International law, has not been allowed by Morocco to return to the Western Sahara except a small number of them. This fact proves that MINURSO’s full functionality is far from being achieved. The UN Secretariat assertion that ‘in principle’ Morocco has agreed to restore the full functionality of the Mission through a ‘gradual process’, meaning an initial return of 25 staff in the ‘near future’ and then additional staff ‘subsequently’, has thus proven to be a misleading illusion.

2.Notwitstanding the emphasis in resolution 2285 (2016) on the importance of the parties to commit to a fifth round of negotiations, there has been no movement nor steps taken in that direction, despite the readiness of the Frente POLISARIO to engage and cooperate with the UNSG’s Personal Envoy, Ambassador Christopher Ross, toward meeting this requirement. It is no secret that the political process is hampered by Morocco’s continuous obstruction. This dangerous impasse in the political process threatens regional stability on a continent already contending with a number of fragile conflicts, which the Council has already defined as a non- option.

3. The situation in ElGargarat is the result of the accumulation of several dangerous developments that the Secretariat and the Council could have dealt with in an effective manner. The expulsion of MINURSO personnel, the continued Morocco's obstruction to the mission of the UNSG Personnel Envoy, and the Council’s silence, has encouraged Morocco to undertake its most provocative violation of the cease fire, by crossing the “wall of the shame” into the area forbidden by the military agreements signed with MINURSO to build a road in that part of our Territory under our sovereignty and control.  The Frente POLISARIO was left with no choice other than to stop this unacceptable action given the fact that MINURSO was not able to persuade Morocco, as it has done in the past, to desist from what is a clear violation of the cease fire and that has the potential to ensure the termination of it. Whilst the situation on the ground is still tense, it is but one point within a larger picture that requires an effective engagement of the Security Council toward assuring the full return of MINURSO and the resumption of the political process through a fifth round of direct negotiations.

4. Contrary to Morocco’s pretexts and propaganda, which it continues to spread among Members of the Council, that the purpose of the road is to “put an end to illicit trafficking of all kinds”, the Frente POLISARIO forces have captured in December 2016, a few kilometers from ElGargarat, five thousands kilograms of drugs (Hashish) en provenance of the "Wall of shame". This is a crime that is impossible to commit without the “complicity and guidance” of Moroccan military commanders. MINURSO was present during this capture and documented the facts. This is not an isolated case. It has happened on several occasions and in other places near the so-called military berm.  It begs the question, “from where is this “trafficking of all kinds” coming?”

4. The Ruling of the European Court of Justice of 21 December 2016, which explicitly stated and recognized that Western Sahara is not part of Morocco and that any trade agreements with Morocco excludes our country, offers a new opportunity for the Council to take measures to ensure the protection of the Sahrawi people’s permanent sovereignty over their natural resources.

5. Furthermore, the recent adhesion of Morocco to the African Union by signing and ratifying the Constitute Act of the Continental Organization, whose article 4 states that the Member States borders are those that existed the day of achievement of their independence, should constitute a reference for the Security Council and must facilitate stronger cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union toward a just and fair resolution of the conflict of Western Sahara. It must be recalled that the two Organizations have elaborated in 1988 the Settlement Plan that has led to the creation of MINURSO whose explicit mandate is to organize a free and fair referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.

The Security Council meeting on Western Sahara on 22 February 2017, now more than ever, is an opportunity for the Council to take measures to reinvigorate the peace process following the Moroccan-instigated crisis. The facts demonstrate that “silent diplomacy”, based on and inspired by the maneuvers of the occupying power, has failed and is leading to the Council’s failure in conflict prevention on Western Sahara. It is thus incumbent on the Council to restore MINURSO’s credibility and signal confidence to the international community on the issue of Western Sahara.

I would be most grateful if you would bring this letter to the attention of the Members of the Security Council.... Representative of the Frente POLISARIO To the United Nations”"
Back on February 16 at a rare panel discussion on Western Sahara just off Manhattan's Park Avenue, a questioner brought the proceedings to a halt when he asked about Trump adviser Steve Bannon working in MINURSO.  Several audience members - on both sides, as it turned out - asked, Why? From the podium came the answer that the reference was to John Bolton. The Q&A continued.
  Inner City Press asked about Antonio Guterres, who recently gave the top position in UN Peacekeeping to yet another French official, Jean-Pierre Lacroix the fifth in a row, and what his views may be on Western Sahara.
  Amy Goodman of Democracy Now responded that as a former Portuguese prime minister Guterres should remember, and be asked about, East Timor. Video here, from Min 1:30:26. Consider it an assignment.
 The event was at Hunter College's Roosevelt House and included Prof Sandra Babcock, lawyer Katlyn Thomas, Madeleine Bair of Watching Western Sahara and Mohammed Ali Arkoukoum of the Saharawi Association in New York. The final questioner, with a pro-Morocco perspective and some supporters with filming phones, came in from Boston.
  Back on January 27 after the UN Security Council held a closed door meeting about Western Sahara, Inner City Press asked the Council's President for January Olof Skoog of Sweden what happened in the meeting. Video here.
  Specifically, Inner City Press asked Skoog how many of the 83 members of the MINURSO peacekeeping mission expelled by Morocco have be able to return.
 Skoog did not give a number, but said that MINURSO is still no up to full functionality. He mentioned Guerguerat.
  Inner City Press asked if Morocco's attempts to join the African Union, and the impact that might have on the political negotiations, had been discussed. Skoog said no.

  There was no time to ask about the Norwegian oil fish ship that, it seems, violated the recent European court ruling. And less than two hours later, guards citing the eviction / Press downgrading order of Spanish UN official Cristina Gallach demanded to know where Inner City Press' "minder" was, putting an end to a diplomat's provision of information to Inner City Press. This is today's UN.

On Burundi, UN Spokesman Refuses To Answer Press Qs, Bans Famine Q to Guterres


By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series

UNITED NATIONS, February 22 -- How little does today's UN care about Burundi? They dodge and ignore questions - and, it seems, cover up famine.

 On the morning of February 22, Inner City Press submitted these questions to UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric who had canceled the day's noon briefing: "On Burundi, please immediately provide the UN's understanding of the outcome of the meeting(s) in Arusha, and any updated if-asked on Burundi's request to Tanzania to arrest some of those invited to Arusha by facilitator Mkapa. Also, please confirm UN receipt of, and provide UN / SG response to, a letter seeking to replace the UN Special Adviser on Burundi."
  More than two hours later, having no response at all, Inner City Press posed a (UN cover up of) Burundi famine question to new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, adding audibly that his spokesman Dujarric is not answering basic Press questions. Video here.Two more hours later, still no answer. Seems Dujarric should go the way of Ban Ki-moon and Cristina Gallach atop DPI, which cut even the Burundi famine question. See video here,with a Nikki Haley answer at the end; compare to footage of UNTV of Cristina Gallach, which at end cuts audio as Inner City Press is asking Guterres about UN leak on famine in Burundi.
 The UN email lists famine in Kirundu Muyinga, Cankuzo and Ruyigi in Burundi.
  The UN is belatedly repatriating Burundi military figure Budigi from its Peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, after Inner City Press twice asked the UN why it deployed a person who burned down Radio Publique Africaine.
  The first time Inner City Press asked, the UN didn't even transcribe Budigi's name. So Inner City Press asked again. When the UN Spokesperson's office finally had an answer, it did not email it to Inner City Press, but rather waited to read it out at the February 21 noon briefing.
 Inner City Press then asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq why Budigi wasn't caught in what the UN claims its its routine first screening. Video here. This has not been explained. Watch this site.
  When self-styled Burundi facilitator William Mkapa drew up a list of participants, he allowed Pierre Nkunrunziza to in essence choose his interlocutors, making their participation contingent on Nkurunziza granting them provisional immunity. 
  This and Burundi's request to Tanzania to have opponents arrested should be raised in the February 23 UN Security Council meeting about Burundi. But it will be behind closed doors, and penholder France's constant quote when Inner City Press asks is the vague "we never give up."
  In Burundi, government electricity and water authority (Regideso) employee Lydia Nibogora was murdered and dumped. Sources Inner city Press has come to trust say it is because she blew the whistle on corruption. There should be an investigation, but where is the UN? We'll have more on this.
Inner City Press on February 17 asked, video here, UN transcript here.
Inner City Press on February 16 asked, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press: the Government itself has said it's not going to participate.  So I wanted to know if you have any kind of update to what you said yesterday.  And, also, a Burundian minister has visited refugees in Uganda.  This has given rise to protests, because there's a sense that… that, by visiting people that fled the country in fear of their lives, there's essentially a threat to them to be repatriated or refouled back to Burundi.  I wanted to know if the UN has a view on that.   And, finally, I'd asked some weeks ago about a guy called Budigi, a Burundian military figure that was involved in the burning down of Radio Publique Africaine.  And it's, again, reported by Radio Publique Africaine that this Nicolas Budigi is part of UN CAR, the UN Mission in Central African Republic.   And so Stéphane had said he'd look into it.  I wanted to know, have you found out that this… whether or not… can you confirm that the guy is there?  And, if not, what does it say about the vetting that's being conducted by DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations)?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, our peacekeeping colleagues have been looking into this matter.  I think they're trying to gather details on this now.  Once we have that, we'll let you know.  Regarding the participation by the parties in the Arusha talks, we do regret the decision by any invited participant to decline attendance of the consultations to be held in Arusha under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC) and facilitated by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa.  We urge the parties to demonstrate the necessary flexibility to make a negotiated solution possible, and the UN will continue to support the process led by the EAC.
  On February 14, after Inner City Press asked a second time (and about the constitution, here), the UN sent Inner City Press this response, which we publish in full: "Special Adviser Benomar is in Arusha at the invitation of the Facilitator, former President Benjamin Mkapa, to support his efforts. The Facilitator has invited both the government and opposition and offered assurances to those members of the opposition who are on a Burundian Government arrest warrant list that they will not face arrest or extradition while in Tanzania."
  Meanwhile, an Nkurunziza minister is "visiting" refugees who fled Nkurunziza into Uganda, giving rise to protests.
 Inner City Press first asked the UN's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on February 13 how the UN can support this. With the answer UNclear, and just before Haq called Inner City Press an obsessive a*hole, Inner City Press asked him, from the UN transcript: 
Inner City Press:  The other thing I wanted to ask about was on the Burundi talks is, you'd said yesterday that the UN is doing everything possible to make sure they're inclusive and that there shouldn't be preconditions.  And I wanted to get your response now.  The ruling party, CNDD-FDD, has said, quote, we are not going to sit with people who are under arrest warrants.  So this means that the peop… that… that exactly what you were saying yesterday you're opposed to will take place in these talks.  And I wanted to know, will Mr. [Jamal] Benomar nonetheless attend?  Will there still be UN funds to support a process in which large parts of the opposition are not allowed to participate?

Deputy Spokesman:  We'll check with Mr. Benomar what his intentions are on that.
From the February 14 UN's transcript:
Inner City Press: In Burundi, the talks that are re-beginning, there's a list out of the participants, but it says at the bottom of the lists that the… the opposition's attendance is contingent on discussions with Pierre Nkurunziza to grant conditional immunity.  Since the UN is supporting this process, is it really a process if one side gets to choose who from the other side can attend?  What is the role of the UN in ensuring inclusivity of the talks?

Deputy Spokesman:  We have stressed and will continue to stress the need for all talks to be inclusive.  And we want, therefore, all people to be able to participate in a manner that is not conditional.

Inner City Press:  But, what is… I mean, conditioned on immunity.  This is a letter… this is a document from Mr. [Benjamin] Mkapa, and he seems to be accepting that Pierre Nkurunziza can choose who can attend.

Deputy Spokesman:  We're in touch with the parties, and we're doing what we can to ensure that talks will be as inclusive as possible.
  So what is the UN doing?
  On top of Mkapa's attempt to up his pay to $1500 a day, and inclusion in his team of a person named in a previous UN sanctions report for DR Congo, there are more and more questions about this facilitation. But the UN, which "supports" it, won't even disclose the delay and blocking of its visas. 
  Herve Ladsous, the fourth French national in a row to run UN Peacekeeping, overrode recommendations and continues to pay the Nkurunziza government for Burundian peacekeepers accused of 25 rapes in the Central African Republic. This is calling out for action and cuts, and a re-thinking of how and by whom UN Peacekeeping should be run. Watch this site.
While the UN claims, even now, that it vets the peacekeepers it deploys before it deploys them, it has already had to repatriate a number, from Burundi. On January 24 Inner City Press asked about another, but the UN in its transcript didn't even take down the name. Video here,UN transcript here and below.
   At the confirmation hearing for Nikki Haley, nominee as US Ambassador to the UN, on January 18 Haley three times said that countries whose peacekeepers abuse should not keep getting paid.
  Inner City Press asked the UN and UK about this, with the example of the UN having chosen to keep paying Burundi for 800 troops even after the UN's own inquiry charged 25 rapes by Burundian soldiers in the Central African Republic.
  UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft signaled agreement, that sexual abuse by peacekeepers should be met by repatriation. Tweeted video here. But simply to be replaced by troops from the same country, to get paid? 
(During Rycroft's answer, there was a smirk at the mention of Burundi, from US state media that's had John Kerry on its Board - perhaps aflashback to Liberians, here. We may have more on this.)
 UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq called it a "case by case" decision, tweeted video here. But who decided it, and why? Look to Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping.

From January 17: Video here; UN transcript here
Inner City Press: You may have seen that Burundi has announced it's going to withdraw 5,400 troops from AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia].  They're saying they're not being paid.  The European Union says that they, in fact… the soldiers are being paid, just the Government is not able to take a cut of it because they believe the Government is in violation of various human rights issues.  What has the UN, which itself has peacekeepers… what does it think about the standoff?  Does it believe that it's legitimate for a funder of a peacekeeping operation to say we'll pay the people directly so that the Government doesn't get a cut, particularly in the case of Burundi where the UN has decided not to use Burundian police officers in CAR [Central African Republic]?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding the question of how these troops are to be paid, that's a matter that needs to be resolved ultimately with the European Union, which is responsible for the payment issue, and with the African Union.  So, that's not really something which we would comment on.  Of course, we believe that all troops performing such tasks need to be paid.

Inner City Press:  But, you have… I guess my question is, in the Central African Republic, the UN is still paying the Pierre Nkurunziza Government for the use of these 800-some peacekeepers, and you have another major, you know, admittedly, not the UN, but the EU saying this is a Government that would, you know, predictably use this funding to commit human rights violations.  Does the UN disagree?

Deputy Spokesman:  We… if we were to receive reports of problems with payments getting to our peacekeeping troops, we would act upon that accordingly.  Whenever we pay Governments, as a general policy, we do that on the assurance that those… that that money will go to the peacekeeping troops.

Inner City Press:  Just one final question.  What… what's the UN's understanding of the percentage that's kept by governments before they pass it through to… because it's not 100 per cent.  I think you know that.  So, what percentage of withholding is appropriate, according to the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  That not something that we calculate or advise on.  That a decision made by different Governments.
  So there are no limits at all? Except if a government takes 100% and the peacekeepers complain they got nothing? We'll have more on this.

As Burundi "facilitator" William Mkapa reconvened talks, the attendees list obtained by Inner City Press shows not only Ken Vitisia, of whom we're previously written, but also Francis Mnodolwa.
   Inner City Press previously on December 29 asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric to comment on the inclusion of an individual listed in the November 2009 DR Congo sanctions Group of Experts report, without answer. (Dujarric answered only two and a half of the 22 questions Inner City Press submitted: and those only to defend Ban Ki-moon and himself.)
  Now, from Paragraph 74 of that report:
"The Group has been informed by several sources, including a source close to Mr. Ndagundi, that he has close links to the ruling Counseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party in
Burundi.. Mr. Ndagundi.s Burundian telephone records also show 27 communications from April to September 2009 between himself and the number used by Francis Ndoluwa, the ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to Burundi, a former general in the Tanzanian military. A source close to Mr. Ndagundi informed the Group that he works closely with the Ambassador."
  So there is yet another of Mkapa's team that is close to the CNDD-FDD. 
On January 16, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesman Farhaq Haq, video here, UN Transcript here.
  On January 11, long after the UN Security Council ostensibly mandated the deployment to Burundi of 228 UN Police, no progress had been made. Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press: Has there been any progress in deploying the 226 police that the Security Council also mandated for Burundi to Burundi?  Do you have any update on that?

Spokesman:  No.  None that I can report.  Go ahead.  Last one.
   While corpses are found in Burundi and the government blocks the deployment of both the UN Police and UN Conflict Prevention staff ostensibly called for by the UN Secretariat and Security Council, the government's supporters try to side with either UN censors like Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, who evicted and restricts the Press which reports on Burundi, or more generally UN staff. 
It is more than a little ironic. UN staff are being PNG-ed and having visas denied from Burundi.
   While the UN says little and does nothing about this, they made a point of ordering Inner City Press to stop broadcasting on Periscope, with voice-over, a Town Hall meeting with new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, which was on the UN's public UN Webcast website. And the government supporters, saying Inner City Press entered the meeting (it didn't) and picking up on the anti-Press maze Cristina Gallach of Spain and DPI has created, piled on. The UN of Gallach has brought this on; this is how the UN is perceived and to this has it sunk.
   There is also a strange announcement of a 500 Euros loan being arranged from a shadowy, seemingly dormant company “Biz Planners.” We'll have more on this.
 Benjamin Mkapa as Burundi mediator has kept his mind on his money, and his money on his mind, even as amid assissination of minister, closing down of NGOs. Well placed sources exclusively teold Inner City Press that Mkapa demanded a raise -- up to $1500 a day -- and was rejected.

Mkapa then took his demand to the East African Community heads of state. Will he get the payday? By declaring Pierre Nkurunziza legitimate because Ambassadors still present their credential to him, Mkapa is working for the money. But $1500 a day?

   There are other of his advisers gunning for up to $500 a day, including one who is said to have previously help arm CNDD-FDD related groups. Yes, we'll have more on this.

On January 4, Inner City Press asked about the Security Council's (lack of) Follow through on Burundi, to Ambassador Delattre of France, the "penholder" on Burundi. Tweeted video here.

On Feltman Staying Atop UN DPA, ICP Asks Nikki Haley If US Supports, She Says Yes


By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 22 – When US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley spoke to the press on February 16, she questioned why the UN Security Council meets every month about Palestine. 
  Inner City Press, returning from the UN noon briefing where it asked about UN corruption, asked or tried to ask Ambassador Haley if the US supports the UN's decision to extend the contract of Obama-nominee Jeffrey Feltman atop the UN Department of Political Affairs through April 2018. Video here. 

  Now on February 22, Inner City Press got a second chance to ask the question to Ambassador Haley and did: Is the US comfortable with Jeffrey Feltman staying on at DPA? Ambassador Haley, on the steps in front of the Security Council, said "Yes." Video here.
  The answer is appreciated - we've provided it directly to Feltman and will report as always any substantive comments received. Next USUN questions include when and with whom replacements atop UNICEF and the World Food Program will come. Watch this site.
 The US blocked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' nomination of the Palestinian Authority's Salam Fayyad to be UN envoy to Libya. Inner City Press asked the UN about the nomination earlier on February 10, noting that its sources told it the nomination was really by Jeffrey Feltman, the Obama administration's appointee to head the UN Department of Political Affairs. Can Feltman stay on, given the new Administration in Washington?
  Did Antonio Guterres err in nominating the PA's Fayyed on February 8, then heading out on a 12-day trip just as the US expressed disappointment and blocked the nomination?
   Nikky Haley, US Permanent Representative to the UN, issued a statement on the evening of February 10 that “The United States was disappointed to see a letter indicating the intention to appoint the former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister to lead the UN Mission in Libya. For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel. The United States does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations, however, we encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution. Going forward the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.” 
That the UN would be naming a successor as its Libya envoy to Martin Kobler of Germany was reported by Inner City Press in December along with the name of one of the candidates, the UK's Nick Kay. 
  Later, after Antonio Guterres took office at Secretary General, a Permanent Member of the Security Council confirmed to Inner City Press the candidacy of Kay adding that there was "another strong candidate" while declining to name that candidate.
  Guterres has written to the Security Council that "following the usual consultations" he is giving the post to longtime Palestinian Authority politician Salam Fayyad, some are asking of just what these consultations consisted.
  Already significant forces in Libya are opposing the nomination; others are linking it to Jeffrey Feltman, the Obama Administration's head of UN Political Affairs who has arranged to stay on until July 4 so that his UN pension vests. How will this sit with Washington?
  On February 10, Inner City Press asked the UN spokesman, Transcript here: 
Inner City Press: there's a silence procedure.  Right?  Because the letter dated 8 February is out, and it says that António Guterres, following the usual consultations, is… is proposing Salam Fayyad as the new… I mean, people have seen the letter.  So I guess what I'm wondering is, what were these consultations?  Did he speak to the US Mission?  Did he speak to people in control in Benghazi?  Can you give some sense… I guess there's already some questioning of this, and I'm wondering, what consultations?  Is it only with the Security Council or with others?

Deputy Spokesman:  There's a normal process of consultations that occurs when envoys are selected, and part of that policy for envoys that report to the Security Council involves informing the Security Council.  That's the only real detail I'd be able to share at this stage.
   The president of the Security Council, Ukraine, told Inner City Press silence expires at 5 pm on February 10...
  They note that the Trump administration, in its draft Executive Order, proposes cutting US funding to any UN entity which allows the Palestinian Authority as a member, and is discussing cutting funding to the PA. Was the US Mission to the UN consulted? Which Mission? 

  And what of Nick Kay, formerly UN envoy to Somalia, now back with the US FCO? Does Kobler return immediately to the German foreign service, where he still has a position as he told Inner City Press when questioned about his predecessor at UNSMIL Bernardino Leon selling out to the UAE diplomatic academy? What Under Secretary General post will Germany get in the UN? Watch this site.