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September 17, 2010

As UN Official Confirms Sudan Prescreens UNMIS Statements, Rice Unaware, Disturbing

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, September 16 -- From Sudan, last month multiple sources told Inner City Press that the United Nations system's Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier had started to show previews of the UN's press releases to the Omar al Bashir regime's "ministry of humanitarian affairs" before making them public.

Inner City Press asked the UN to deny or confirm and explain this. Days later on September 2 UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said that coordinator Charpentier "works with the government and opposition" but "does not submit press statements to the government for approval, with the exception of joint press statements on joint initiatives."

But on September 16, a better placed UN official confirmed to Inner City Press that Charpentier has of late been showing his releases to the Sudanese government, "during this period of tension."

Later on September 16, Inner City Press asked the US Permanent Representative Susan Rice about this UN practice. In a comment vetted and approved by the US Mission, Ambassador Rice replied, "I'm not aware of that, but it would be disturbing."

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