27 May 1997

Press Briefing



Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, began today's press briefing by reminding correspondents that the Secretary-General had issued a statement over the weekend regarding the coup d'etat against the duly elected Government of Sierra Leone. Following Sunday's coup, United Nations facilities in Freetown were looted and United Nations vehicles, along with their drivers, were taken. Currently, there was no further information concerning the condition of the national staff that had been taken, but the international staff was believed to be secure.

The World Food Programme (WFP) had issued a press release stating that looters had stolen at least 1,650 tons of food aid, 15 motor vehicles and other equipment from warehouses in Freetown, Mr. Eckhard said. That press release was available in the Spokesman's Office.

Regarding Tajikistan, the Secretary-General's Special Representative Gerd Merrem had reported from Tehran that on Sunday, 25 May, the Tajik parties initialled the Protocol on guarantees of implementation of the General Agreement on Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan, Mr. Eckhard announced. The official signing ceremony of the Protocol was scheduled for 28 May in Tehran. The conclusion of the Protocol completed the nearly two-year process of inter-Tajik negotiations. The parties were scheduled to agree on a date for the signing of the General Agreement on Peace and National Accord between President Emomali Rakhmonov and the main Tajik opposition leader, Said Abdullo Nuri, in Moscow.

Mr. Eckhard said the new name plates were ready for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but last minute consultations with the Government were being held to determine if its delegation would be seated under "C" or "D", under the English alphabetical order, in the General Assembly Hall.

The Security Council was scheduled to consider this morning the fourth biweekly report on the multinational protection force for Albania, Mr. Eckhard said. The report had been submitted to the Council on Friday, 23 May, and would be issued as an official document today. The Council was also scheduled to be briefed this morning by the Secretariat on Somalia. In addition, Under- Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast was scheduled to brief the Council on Sierra Leone.

Mr. Eckhard said the Secretary-General had met this morning with Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and he would be hosting a luncheon for Mr. Carrington later in the afternoon. Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General had signed an agreement for cooperation between the United Nations and CARICOM.

Daily Press Briefing - 2 - 27 May 1997

The Secretary-General was at the time of the briefing addressing a meeting of the International Women's Forum, he continued. The subject of the Secretary-General's speech was "Priorities of the United Nations for the Third Millennium", and it was being held in Conference Room 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The text of the Secretary-General's remarks was available in the Spokesman's Office.

In Geneva today, Mr. Eckhard announced, the Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ralph Zacklin, had issued a statement expressing deep concern over reports of detentions and arrests of National League for Democracy members taking place in Rangoon, Myanmar, in the last few days. That statement was also available in the Spokesman's Office.

Botswana today became the sixty-third Member State to have paid in full its United Nations budget contribution for the current year with a cheque of $106,508, Mr. Eckhard said. The outstanding contribution level was now under $2.5 billion.

Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Greece Yannos Kranidiotis would brief correspondents at 5 p.m. this afternoon in room 226, Mr. Eckhard announced. He also reminded correspondents that James Jonah, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone, had held a press briefing earlier today at 11 a.m.

Mr. Eckhard said he had been asked to announce that the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) would sponsor a press briefing by former Prime Minister of Sudan Sadiq al-Mahdi on Wednesday, 28 May, at 11 a.m. It would also host Joan Quigley, astrologer to former United States President Ronald Reagan, on Tuesday, 10 June, at 2 p.m.

He then said that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had announced that President of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn would deliver the 1997 Paul Hoffman Lecture on Thursday, 29 May, at 6 p.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. The topic of Mr. Wolfensohn's lecture would be "People First", and he would hold a preliminary press conference from 5:15 to 5:45 p.m. in Conference Room A.

The Thirteenth Meeting of Experts on the United Nations Programme in Public Administration and Finance would take place at Headquarters from 27 May to 4 June, Mr. Eckhard said. The meeting, which would focus on the requirements for effective public administration as recognized by the General Assembly, was being organized by the United Nations Division for Governance, Public Administration and Finance of the Department for Development Support and Management Services.

There were no questions.

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For information media. Not an official record.