Somalia & Eritrea Monitor Resigns, Reuters Regurgitates Report With No Mention

Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Groupmember of #SomaliaEritreaMonitoringGroup Dinesh Mahtani used #UN #SEMG time for unrelated advocacy regarding #Eritrea

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 10 — On October 7 Inner City Press exclusively reported that a member of the UN’s Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group Dinesh Mahtani used UN SEMG time and letterhead for unrelated advocacy regarding Eritrea. Mahtani’s letter was exclusively put online here by Inner City Press.

On October 8, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Mahtani’s letter and if it was appropriate behavior for a sanctions monitor.  No, Dujarric said, adding that the letter was “shown” to Dinesh Mahtani, who has resigned. Video here.

On October 10, Reuters two UN correspondents dutifully regurgitated the SEMG’s most recent report, even called it “exclusive” — a basis on which Reuters pays — with no mention that one of the SEMG’s members had resigned after being exposed for pushing regime change.

Key fact: Dinesh Mahtani used to work for Reuters, see c.v. here.

Sources had told Inner City Press that Mahtani, the finance expert on SEMG and previously on the DR Congo Sanctions group, was found requesting favors from a member state, to which the SEMG reports. Here is a document:

a letter from Dinesh Mahtani, ostensibly in his SEMG role, saying that former Eritrean official Ali Abdu “has great potential to play a stabilizing role in Eritrea with the country possibly headed to an uncertain period in its history.”

This is hardly the first controversy in the SEMG — but usually the members wait until they are off or on their way off the Monitor Group to “let it all hang out,” as one source put it of previous SEMG chair Matt Bryden.

The current chair, Jarat Chopra, has faced complaints from Somalia, also exclusively reported by Inner City Press.

Bryden’s departure was telegraphed in remarks to, and a report by, Inner City Press on July 24, 2012 when Security Council members from three countries gave Inner City Press exclusive and negative reviews of Bryden’s performance.

“He’s leaving,” one of them said dismissively and definitely of Bryden. There was snarky speculation Bryden may have been angling for a book deal, or a post with a group like HRW.

With Bryden the questions were larger of leaking, of micro-managing the Eritrean air force and more. Those about Mahtani, the sources tell Inner City Press, are “bigger… regime change on UN letterhead.” Now Mahtani has resigned. We’ll have more on this.

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