Guterres still a ‘believer’ in the UN despite US swipe

The United Nations' Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a session of the COP24 summit on climate change in Katowice, Poland, on December 4, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Guterres still a ‘believer’ in the UN despite US swipe

  • “The secretary-general has been a believer in the United Nations," a UN spokesman said
  • Mike Pompeo took a swipe at the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, suggesting they were outdated and catered to elites

UNITED NATIONS, United States: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres remains a “believer” in the United Nations despite US criticism that the world body had lost sight of its founding mission to advance peace, the UN spokesman said Wednesday.
In a major foreign policy address in Brussels, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a swipe at the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, suggesting they were outdated and catered to elites.
“The UN was founded as an organization that welcomed peace-loving nations. I ask: Today, does it continue to serve its mission faithfully?” Pompeo said in the address on Tuesday.
Asked about Pompeo’s remarks, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric acknowledged that there was a “lack of trust” in international organizations but that Guterres strongly defended multilateralism.
“The secretary-general has been a believer in the United Nations and a believer in the multinational system for a long time now,” said Dujarric.
He has been “very clear in addressing the lack of trust ... that there exists in many international organizations,” he said.
In his remarks, Pompeo took aim at UN peacekeeping missions that “drag on for decades, no closer to peace,” and said UN climate deals were “viewed by some nations as simply a vehicle to redistribute wealth.”
“Anti-Israel has been institutionalized. Regional powers collude to vote the likes of Cuba and Venezuela onto the Human Rights Council.”
The renewed criticism followed the US administration’s decisions to quit the Geneva-based Human Rights Council and cut funding to UN agencies and UN peacekeeping missions.
On Thursday, the United Nations embarked on two major peace efforts, bringing warring rebels and the Saudi-backed government in Yemen to the negotiating table in Sweden while talks on the decades-old conflict in Western Sahara opened in Geneva.
Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, who took the UN helm in January 2017, has pushed for reforms to make the global body more responsive to world crises.
The Socialist politician has had a surprisingly smooth relationship with the administration of President Donald Trump, despite its criticism of the United Nations.
By far the UN’s largest financial backer, the United States provides for 20 percent of the operating budget and 28 percent of the separate peacekeeping budget.


Blasts heard in Maiduguri, northeast of Nigeria, before polls open

Updated 23 February 2019
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Blasts heard in Maiduguri, northeast of Nigeria, before polls open

  • The city is the birthplace of Boko Haram Islamists
  • Boko Haram has warned it will disrupt the elections

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: A series of explosions was heard in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday, shortly before the opening of polls in presidential and parliamentary elections.

Multiple blasts were heard at about 6A.M. (0500 GMT), locals said. There was no immediate indication of the cause.

But the city is the birthplace of Boko Haram Islamists and has been repeatedly attacked during their nearly 10-year insurgency that has devastated the remote region.

Polls open at 0700 GMT, with President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general who has vowed to defeat the jihadists, seeking a second term.

Boko Haram has warned it will disrupt the elections.

One resident in the Gomari neighborhood of Maiduguri said: “I heard several explosions coming from the Bulumkutu area this morning but it’s unclear what is happening.

“There have been suspicions that it was an attack by Boko Haram but we don’t know yet.”

He added: “Late yesterday (Friday), some gunmen went into the house of a man in Gomari and shot him dead. We still don’t know the motive.”

Two other residents gave a similar account.

The early morning explosions in Maiduguri come after a Boko Haram attack late on Friday on Zabarmari village, some 10 kilometers outside Maiduguri.

The attack forced residents to flee into the city.