Saturday, May 28, 2016

At UN, Ban Ki-moon's Guinea Bissau Statement Leaves ECOWAS FUnding Questions UNanswered

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- After the UN Security Council met about Guinea Bissau late on May 26, a diplomat emerged and told Inner City Press that ECOWAS had made a proposal to the European Union for funding for its mission in the country. 
After a delay, as jazz wafted down the UN's second floor from the Delegate's Lounge, the Council's Presidency for May, Egypt, read out Elements to the Press. The fix seemed in for no questions, but Inner City Press asked one: who will pay for the mission, ECOMIS? It seems the Peacebuilding Commission is urging states to fund it. But who?
Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq at the May 27 noon briefing what the UN is doing on this. Haq said he was awaiting a statement. But when Ban's canned statement came out, it didn't address this issue at all:
"The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over the situation in Guinea-Bissau following the President of the Republic's decision to appoint a new Prime Minister and the subsequent protests in opposition to the appointment. He urges all political stakeholders and their supporters to act responsibly, refrain from violence and avoid an escalation of the situation by settling their concerns through dialogue.

The Secretary-General notes that the prolonged political crisis in Guinea-Bissau is gravely affecting the functioning of the country’s institutions and undermining prospects for socio-economic development. He calls on all political stakeholders to urgently bring the ongoing impasse to an end in the interests of the people of Guinea-Bissau on the basis of the country's constitution.

The Secretary-General welcomes the professionalism of the national armed forces in the fulfilment of their duties and urges them to continue to act responsibly."
  If the UN can't handle this, what can it handle?
Earlier on May 26 when US Ambassador Samantha Power came to the UN Security Council stakeout, she took questions on Syria, Lebanon, Ukraine and the Committee to Protect Journalists - but none on Africa, which makes up 70% of the Security Council's agenda. (Inner City Press tried at the end, “Question on Burundi? Does the US think the Arusha talks are inclusive enough?” but to no avail,Periscope video here.)
    The CPJ question was about the UN's NGO Committee voting “No” on CPJ, after a question and answer period that Inner City Press covered (and Periscoped) earlier in the week. Power indicated that the US will be bringing CPJ to a vote in the full Economic and Social Council, as it has on other NGOs which Inner City Press has covered, not without success.
  But there is an irony here. CPJ has criticized the Egyptian state media Akhbar Elyom - which the UN has selected to take over the shared office space it revoked in retaliation from Inner City Press for seeking to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room on January 29, which Inner City Press saw and sees as related to the UN's expanding Ng Lap Seng bribery scandal.
  After the UN ousted Inner City Press on February 19, the Government Accountability Project wrote to the US Mission urging it to counter this retaliation. Letter here.Inner City Press tried to ask about the letter, to Power hereand then at the State Department briefing in Washington (it did ask, here.)
   After the UN threatened to evict Inner City Press' investigative files (and before it did so, on April 16), GAP wrote to Ban Ki-moon urging him to call off this retaliation. Letter here.
   After the UN, having through channels indicted it would the office space empty until Inner City Press served out its four month purgatory, moved to give the office to Egypt's Akhbar Elyom, a media CPJ has criticized, Inner City Press re-raised it to CPJ. Still, nothing. Watch this site.