Tuesday, December 1, 2009

U.S. Supports UN's Offer of Darfur Post to Gambari Despite NGOs' Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 30 -- On making the new UN envoy to Darfur the Nigerian Ibrahim Gambari, previously UN envoy to Myanmar, it appears the fix is in. Even the U.S., said to have wanted a more strident human rights voice for the post, has reportedly given in. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, asked Monday about Gambari to Darfur, said "we support the Secretary General."

Following Inner City Press' exclusive report earlier on Monday that Gambari had been offered the post by the UNand African Union, Inner City Press received confirmation that Gambari has already been requesting commitments to come serve with him in Dar fur.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as he greeted Inner City Press, was told that iot had already published the Gambari to Darfur story. His reaction was, "How did you know?"

A top UN peacekeeping official said that the offer had been made - and Gambari has already started hiring -- but it "remains to be signed."

The UN Security Council is required to sign off on the appointment. Because the U.S., France and UK had opposed Rodolphe Adada's "soft" line on Khartoum in a closed door lunch with Ban Ki-moon, many including U.S.-based NGOs had assumed the U.S. would use its leverage at the UN to get a a stronger voice, less "aligned with dictators" as one NGO put it, to head the Darfur mission.

Susan Rice and team at stakeout, Gambari to Darfur not shown

Inner City Press sought to ask questions of Susan Rice at her rare stakeout session on Monday, but was not given the microphone by her spokesman. Later, Inner City Press posed to the spokesman four questions in writing, including a request to comment on Gambari to Darfur. By 7 p.m. no comment had been received.

Inner City Press asked Susan Rice for her and the U.S. Mission's view of Gambari to Darfur. "We support the Secretary General," she said. Since his Office has confirmed the job offer to Gambari, this means that Ms. Rice and the U.S. support Gambari, despite reservations being expressed by the Darfur focused NGOs which supported Barrack Obama. Watch this space.

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