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United Nations Daily Highlights, 06-02-08

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPOKESMAN'S NOON BRIEFING

BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES HAITIANS ON ELECTIONS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement, said: "On 7 February, the people of Haiti turned out in large numbers to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections. I would like to

congratulate all Haitians who participated in the vote for their commitment to exercising their democratic right to choose their future leaders.

I am pleased that, compared to previous elections, yesterday was remarkably free from violence and I applaud the Haitian people for their commitment to restore democracy. I also appeal for all to respect the official results to be announced by the Provisional Electoral Council.

As the new authorities assume their responsibilities, it will be essential that all political and social actors come together in a spirit of national reconciliation and dialogue in order to build strong democratic institutions and an inclusive governance system.

This is a significant step forward for Haiti. The international community will continue to support the people of Haiti as they seek to achieve stability, normalcy and development."

U.N. MISSION SAYS HAITI ELECTIONS MASSIVE AND PEACEFUL

The

UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) says that following yesterday's massive and peaceful participation by Haitian voters in the presidential, senatorial and national assembly elections, the counting of votes is being completed and the tabulation of results will begin as results flow from the regions into

Port-au-Prince.

This process will take at least three days, with local voting centres sending their results to the Communal Electoral Offices by road and down from the hills by mule in some cases.

From the communal offices they will then be transferred to the Departmental Electoral Offices where they will be picked up by UN helicopters and flown to port-au-Prince and delivered to the tabulation centre, which is guarded by a Chinese Formed Police Unit.

Political parties have been requested to refrain from making any statements concerning the outcome of the elections until the official results have been made public by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP).

At the same time, the Haitian voters who waited in line patiently yesterday to cast their ballots are asked to maintain that same patience as they await the results.

SECURITY COUNCIL FOCUSES ON ERITREA AND ETHIOPIA

The Security Council held closed consultations this morning on Eritrea/Ethiopia.

Jean-Marie Guehenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, provided an update on the situation on the ground, including the impact of the continuing restrictions on the UN operation in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The meeting began with a daily briefing by the Secretariat. Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who gave an update on the elections in Haiti.

SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON THREE PERSONS IN COTE DIVOIRE

The Security Councils Cote dIvoire Sanctions Committee yesterday

named three persons to be subject to sanctions for their actions in that country.

The Committee acted under a resolution that calls for sanctions against persons who constitute a threat to the peace and national reconciliation process in Côte dIvoire.

The Council calls upon all states to freeze any funds the individuals may have abroad and it asks states to cooperate in a travel ban against them.

Those named are Charles Ble Goude, and Eugene Djue, who were cited for repeated public statements advocating violence, and Martin Kouakou Fofie, who is in command of rebels who the Committee said engaged in recruitment of child soldiers, abductions, imposition of force labor and sexual abuse of women.

U.N. ENVOY TO IRAQ CONDEMNS TARGETING OF POLITICAL LEADERS

Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Iraq, today condemned the continuing targeting of Iraqi political figures, following the assassination of the Mayor of Fallujah and kidnappings and other attacks directed against other senior officials.

He denounced all political violence and called on the Iraqi security authorities to investigate fully these criminal activities. Qazi also called on all Iraqis to resolve their differences through dialogue.

HEADS OF UNITED NATIONS, ISLAMIC CONFERENCE AND EUROPEAN UNION

APPEAL FOR END TO CARICATURE-RELATED CONTROVERSY

In a joint statement issued yesterday, the UN Secretary-General, the Organization for the Islamic Conferences Secretary-General [Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu] and the European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy [Javier Solana]

said they are deeply alarmed at the repercussions of the publication of insulting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed and at the violent acts that have occurred in reaction to them.

They said, in their statement, that they fully uphold the right of free speech. But they understand the deep hurt and widespread indignation felt in the Muslim World.

They added that they also believe the recent violent acts surpass the limits of peaceful protest. They call on the authorities of all countries to protect all diplomatic premises and foreign citizens against unlawful attack.

Asked whether the Secretary-General would bring up at the General Assembly the issues of the caricatures and the situations in the Middle East and Iran, as examples of a confrontation between the Muslim world and Western society, the Spokesman said that those issues should not be lumped together.

He added that the Secretary-General believes the controversy over the caricatures shows the need for dialogue between the Muslim world and the West.

Asked about a meeting between the Secretary-General and three representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference today, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General has met with many officials in recent days over the caricatures. But he emphasized, in response to a complaint by one reporter, that the Secretary-General would not want to see any erosion of freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES NEW PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IN KOSOVO

Soren Jessen-Petersen, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kosovo, today welcomed the nomination of Fatmir Sejdiu as candidate for the presidency of Kosovo, to replace Ibrahim Rugova, who died of lung cancer last month.

Jessen-Petersen said, In spite of the sadness we all feel, it is important that the political process goes on in order to carry forward the vision of President Rugova.

He also pledged that Kosovo's institutions can continue to rely on the UN

Mission there for support during the crucial months ahead.

U.N. TO SEND BIRD FLU TEAM TO NIGERIA

The outbreak of the deadly Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus (H5N1) in Nigeria confirms the fears expressed for quite some time that African countries are facing a high risk of becoming infected by the virus, the

Food and Agriculture Organization

said today.

FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) will send veterinary experts to Nigeria to assess the situation and examine how the virus has been introduced.

Meanwhile, the FAO urged veterinary services in Nigeria to eliminate the outbreaks through immediate humane culling and to strictly control the movement of people and animals from and to bird flu infected spots.

HEAD OF LEBANON COMMISSION TO MEET WITH OFFICIALS IN NEW YORK

Asked about a visit by

Serge Brammertz, chairman of the

International Independent Investigation Commission, the Spokesman said that Brammertz was scheduled to come to New York for administrative consultations with UN officials.

It was felt that, now that Brammertz has spent some time in Beirut, it would be a good opportunity to hear from him about the resources he needs and various administrative issues.

Asked about the UNs examination of a tribunal of international character for Lebanon, the Spokesman noted that Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel travelled to Beirut recently. It is likely, he said, that in the near future, Michel could have further consultations with Lebanese officials, either in New York or in Lebanon.

After that, Dujarric added, Michel would report to the Secretary-General, and to the Security Council in due time.

MORE THAN 3 MILLION KENYANS RUNNING OUT OF FOOD

The

World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Kenya

say that 3.5 million Kenyans are running out of food because of the complete failure of the short rains there nearly tripling the number of Kenyans in need of emergency food assistance.

According to an assessment by the Kenyan authorities, WFP and other UN and non-governmental agencies, some 395,000 metric tons of food aid will be required.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNAN WILL DISCUSS MIDDLE EAST WITH PRESIDENT BUSH NEXT WEEK: Asked whether the situation in the Middle East and Lebanon would come up in the Secretary-Generals discussions with U.S. President George W. Bush next week, the Spokesman said that was likely to be part of the broad range of discussions they would have.

ANNAN CONDEMNS EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS: Asked about a

statement issued by the Spokesman on Tuesday concerning targeted killings by Israel and why the United Nations had not issued a similar statement about the United States, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General, in that statement, had said he clearly understood Israels right to defend itself, and he had reiterated his position against extrajudicial executions, wherever they occur.

U.N. PENSION FUND IS NOT SCHEDULED TO BE PRIVATIZED: In response to a question from the noon briefing yesterday about reports that the

UN Pension Fund is being privatized, the Spokesman said he would like to put on record that there is no truth to the rumor of any privatization or other changes to pension system. The Pension Fund has not been approached with any such proposal.

SPOKESMAN EXPLAINS AWARDING OF DELOITTE CONTRACT: For the original study on review of internal controls for the procurement office, Deloitte was awarded a contract based on a lowest cost proposal. The rates quoted by Deloitte were based on existing Long Term Arrangements (LTA) already agreed between Deloitte and

UNDP for management consulting services. As the study identified significant internal control weaknesses, it became apparent that a full forensic review of historical transactions would be essential to identify abnormal transactions. As the contractor already has a full knowledge of the systems and procedures in place, it can perform the task most efficiently. The same, very competitive rates used in the existing contract apply to the extension of scope to a full forensic review. Accordingly it was decided to continue with the contractor under the existing arrangements, which is fully consistent with provisions of procurement rules.

UNICEF CONGRATULATES NEW ENVOY ON CHILDREN AND CONFLICT: The UN

Childrens Fund today congratulated Radhika Coomaraswamy on her appointment as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. Ms. Coomaraswamy succeeds Olara Otunnu, who completed his term in July 2005. Ms. Coomaraswamy has a long record in defending the rights of women and children, said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah. UNICEF looks forward to working closely with her to ensure that the pressing issue of children being abused and exploited in armed conflict remains high on the global agenda.

INVESTIGATION OF UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTINUES: Asked about Jerome Ackermans investigation into the allegations concerning former Under-Secretary-General Dileep Nair, the Spokesman said that Ackerman is continuing his work. He has requested electronic and hard copy information from the Secretariat, which is putting together the information he needs. He acknowledged that Ackermans work has taken longer than expected, and hopes that it can be completed as soon as possible. The United Nations, he noted, has been in touch with Ackerman in recent days.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 100178

Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only

Fax. 212-963-7055

All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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