|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon, everyone.
** C ôte d’Ivoire
We issued a statement last night on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire. In it, the Secretary-General regrets that the Independent Electoral Commission has not yet announced the provisional results of the run-off presidential election that was held on 28 November in Côte d’Ivoire.
The Secretary-General stresses the need for the Independent Electoral Commission to complete its work and announce the provisional results without further delay.
The Secretary-General requests all the Ivorian stakeholders and institutions to demonstrate responsibility and to refrain from any initiative until the announcement of the provisional results by the Independent Electoral Commission. And we have the full statement in our Office.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, also issued a statement last night cautioning the two Presidential candidates that they will be held accountable for acts of violence committed by their supporters.
Pillay said, given the tense situation, it was imperative that the two candidates and their supporters “refrain from statements that incite violence, and from any course of action designed to deprive the people of Côte d’Ivoire of their right to democracy”.
The Security Council this morning is discussing Côte d’Ivoire in its closed consultations, to receive an update on the situation on the ground from the head of the UN mission there [ONUCI]. Choi Young-jin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the country, briefed Council members by videoconference. The President of the Council expects to read a press statement on Côte d’Ivoire once consultations end.
Earlier, the Security Council adopted its programme of work for December. Ambassador Susan Rice of the United States, the Council President for this month, will brief you at 1 p.m., in this room, on the Council’s upcoming work.
Yesterday, during a visit to Zalingei, West Darfur, by the Joint Chief Mediator, Djibril Bassolé, and Qatar's State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud, protestors clashed with Government security forces at the University of Zalingei, resulting in at least one death and several wounded.
The Secretary-General deeply regrets the loss of life and calls for a full investigation to ascertain the facts pertaining to the incident.
The Secretary-General would like to emphasize that the parties to the conflict, and all Darfurians, must be able to express their views freely and openly in Darfur.
The Secretary-General calls on the Government and all armed movements to fully engage in the Doha negotiations and to demonstrate their willingness to make real compromises in order to address the concerns of the Darfur population, who have waited too long for peace.
Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, arrived today on a return visit to Pakistan, four months after one of the worst floods in history struck that country. The primary purpose of her return mission is to emphasize a continued unified commitment to the people of Pakistan during this extraordinary emergency. She will travel to Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. She is scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister and other senior officials, and she will also meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations. We have a press release with more details in our Office.
Iran has not provided the cooperation needed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to confirm that all nuclear material in the country is for peaceful activities, according to the Agency’s Director General, Yukiya Amano. The IAEA needs Iran’s cooperation in clarifying outstanding issues giving rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme, he told the Agency’s Board of Governors in Vienna. In his latest report to the Board of Governors, Mr. Amano requests Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and its other obligations, including implementing its Additional Protocol.
** C ôte d’Ivoire Update
I’ve just been handed this note that says that the election results have been announced in Côte d’Ivoire. We just got word on that; nothing further on that just yet.
On Monday, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will release its Rural Poverty Report. It will have updated estimates on poverty rates and trends in rural areas of developing countries. The report also includes first-hand accounts from rural people regarding the challenges and risks they face in their everyday lives.
Like I said, at 1 p.m., you’ll have Ambassador Susan Rice. Then, tomorrow at 1:15 p.m., President of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss, and the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Theo-Ben Gurirab, will hold a joint press conference here in the Library Auditorium. They will be here to brief you on the joint parliamentary hearings taking place on 2 and 3 December at UN Headquarters around the theme “Towards economic recovery: Rethinking development, retooling global governance”.
And that is all I have for you today. Yes, Masood?
**Questions and Answers
Question: On this, on Valerie, or Ms. Amos, who is visiting Pakistan, does she or is the humanitarian agency providing any figures as to how many people are now going back, or how many people have gone back and have been resettled? I am talking about since the floods.
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Yeah, they have been providing figures. There are also some figures in the press release. I’ll just refer you over to the press release in our office, but there are some numbers there and she’ll gather some more information during her three-day mission to the country. Yes?
Question: Farhan, in regards to Côte d’Ivoire, is there anything that the UN is putting in place in terms of strategic planning to mitigate violence, should there be opposition groups not happy with the outcome of the election?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Yes. You know the UN mission, ONUCI, is on the ground and is working, among other things, to provide protection to key officials and to be present in areas of unrest. The Secretary-General is currently holding a meeting of his senior officials trying to also see what further steps need to be done. Yes, Mr. Abbadi?
Question: Thank you. Following my colleague’s question and your indication that the High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned about violence in Côte d’Ivoire, apparently violence has already taken place. Between two and eight people are reported dead following an attack on the offices of [Alassane] Ouattara, one of the Presidential candidates. Is the Secretary-General aware of that, and what reaction does he have?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, we are aware of the reports, and this is something a team from ONUCI has been looking into, that particular matter of that attack. And so, they are present and looking into it. As you know, both the Secretary-General and Navi Pillay have called for calm, and have warned against any violence committed by the various parties and they hold to that. Yes?
Question: On Côte d’Ivoire, CAR [ Central African Republic] and maybe, whether you can answer this now or later this afternoon, can you… I’d like you to confirm that the head of the elections commission actually asked two Member States in the Security Council for ONUCI protection to leave the country and that somehow ONUCI said this request, until it was made directly to it, wouldn’t be fulfilled. It’s something that’s been reported to people inside the Council. And the question is whether ONUCI was aware of a request by the head of the elections commission for ONUCI protection to leave the country and, if so, what ONUCI’s reaction was.
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: As far as that goes, no, I wouldn’t confirm any of these specific discussions. What I will say is that ONUCI is providing protection to the head of the Independent Electoral Commission, and so, he is receiving protection, as are other people. Yes?
Question: What do you say about these assassinations of scientists in Iran, I mean attempted assassination and killing of one of the scientists? Did you issue any statement on that?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: No. No, we don’t have any statement or any comment on that.
Question: Is that considered a terrorist attack or not? How do you categorize it?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: We haven’t evaluated that. We don’t have any comment. Yes, Matthew?
Question: Yes, I have two questions. One is about this, not just the town of Birao, but portions of the Central African Republic. There, over Thanksgiving, apparently this town of Birao was taken over by rebels and the Government says that the rebels were no longer there. Some say that it’s actually because Chadian soldiers are in the country or joined the fight against the rebels. And I just want to know what is the UN’s awareness of this cross border… then if Chad is involved, fighting in Central African Republic, and what steps if any did the UN system… has it taken to try to continue to protect civilians, where until 15 November it had peacekeepers in that section of CAR?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we’ll check with MINURCAT [United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad] about what sort of response they’re having to the latest fighting. Yes?
Question: On the recent leaks by WikiLeaks, on the document that speaks about the close relationship between Mr. Amano and the United States, did Mr. Amano indicate whether he is going to respond to that or not?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: I’d refer you to my counterparts at the IAEA, it would be for them to comment. Certainly, we haven’t received any public comment from Mr. Amano about this.
Question: But was the Secretary-General concerned about such a relationship, if it exists?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General, as we’ve said in the past, is in no position to confirm the authenticity of these documents. Yes?
Question: About the comments Mr. [John] Ging gave at the press briefing on Monday, he was unable to say as to how many crossings have been opened by Israel or how many… basically the number of crossings, basically it was said that most of them are closed, Israel opens them every now and then. So, now do they have a number at all on that?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: There isn’t. I’d just refer you to what Mr. Ging was saying, that on a day-to-day basis, the general problem is that most of the crossing points have been closed. When they are open, they are opened sporadically and his basic point is they haven’t been opened long enough for the sort of normal commercial traffic that is needed for the revitalization of the area to come through. Yes?
Question: [inaudible] the Secretary-General is aware of the violence that took place yesterday. Do you have the number of dead?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: At this stage we’re looking into the matter and we’re trying to get further details on it. Like I said, ONUCI is present and is gathering more information. Yes?
Question: Two days ago now, you put out a response by Under-Secretary-General Francis Deng [United Nations Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide] on this issue of use of staff time to prepare books that are published under his name. Now, just to keep it brief, I am trying to get an answer to this, he seems to acknowledge that he requested the support of his administrative assistant to help prepare the new sections of a book that came out. So, I still… the question when I first raised it here was is this book, given that UN staff time was put into it, now by this admission, is it a UN book? Can we say this is the UN’s position? It says it was approved by the Chief of Staff, as to content, or as to…
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: No, I’d just refer you to the full text of what he said. These are books that are prepared in his capacity outside of the UN. One of them had to be completed while he was at the UN and he did check with the Ethics Office about the arrangements to make sure that that was acceptable.
Question: But I guess all I want to know, because this is the main section that he doesn’t accept. If, by his own admission, new sections were written while he was a UN staff member prepared by his own staff, is it a UN document or not? It’s about Sudan.
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: No, it’s not a UN document. That project, like all of his other projects, was begun while he was in his private capacity. I’d just refer you — once more, I am not going to add anything further to what he said, which was a fairly extensive, page-long document.
Question: I know, but it leaves this question unanswered.
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Okay. And I have one more thing for you, which is that the Secretary-General today announced the appointment of Brice Lalonde of France and Elizabeth Thompson of Barbados as the Executive Coordinators for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Mr. Lalonde is currently the French Ambassador for climate change negotiations and is expected to assume his duties on 1 January 2011. Ms. Thompson previously served as the Minister of Energy and Environment of Barbados and she also served as the Minister of Physical Development and Minister of Health. And we’ll have more information in a press release in our office. Yes?
Question: On Western Sahara, the Polisario has finally released the person that it held in the area there, [Mustapha] Salma Ould SidiMouloud, and he was released in Mauritania. Does the Secretary-General have any reaction to that?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: There is no immediate reaction, but I’ll check with our counterparts and see whether there is anything further to say.
Question: Just factually, can you confirm that the Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, will be briefing the [Security] Council on 6 December on his visit to Myanmar? And also, if he’s seen the criticisms made by a number of the people that he met with, saying that this was essentially just a kind of a note-taking visit. What’s his response to those now public criticisms in Irrawaddy and elsewhere of the visit by people that he engaged with? What’s his take on the visit?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, first of all, I don’t share your assessment of the trip. There were a number of viewpoints, including people who were quite pleased with that visit. Secondly, as for the schedule of the Security Council, I will leave it to the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Rice, to brief you at 1 p.m. about what their schedule will be, and she can announce for you what their upcoming programme is.
Question: Will Mr. Nambiar, either here or at the stakeout or in some other forum, speak to the press about his publicized and long-awaited visit to Myanmar?
Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, if he does brief the Security Council, we will see at that point whether he intends to brief the press at that point. But like I said, that announcement is for Ambassador Rice.
Good afternoon, everyone.
* *** *For information media • not an official record