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In Africa, Russia Says It's Back, Gbagbo Bristles At France's Blast from Past

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 25 -- This week at the UN showed that in Africa, it is back to the future. The representative of Cote d'Ivoire Alcide Djedje, in front of the Security Council, told the Press about "unacceptable" comments by France. Video here.

    Off camera, Ivorian sources told Inner City Press that French president Nicolas Sarkozy not only spoke of "cleaning up" Abdijan, but had complained to Ban Ki-moon during their meeting in New York that Laurent Gbagbo "is not worth of confidence." Which even the sources acknowledged may well be true -- but colonial power France is not the one to say it.

    On July 24, Russia sent to the Security Council its president's representative to Sudan, Mikhail Margelov, who blusteringly briefed Russian journalists at a table beside the stakeout. Afterward, a long time correspondent explained to Inner City Press the headline Moscow wanted: in Africa, Russia is back. The theory is that during the USSR days, Russia had a lot of projects there, and upper crust Africans were educated in Russia. Now they aim to recapitalize on those connections, as natural resources run short. Back to the future, indeed....

UN's Ban after meeting Gbagbo, Sarkozy's call for cleaning not shown

   Inside the Security Council on July 24, Sudan's Deputy Permanent Representative took a shot at France, for harboring in Paris Darfur rebels who, in his telling, refuse to join the peace process and favor only the armed struggle.

   After the Council session, top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy rushed by the stakeout with an aide. Inside, he had spoke of armored personnel carriers stuck in Port Sudan. But when Inner City Press called out about the long stalled Nepali APCs, Le Roy's aide said the problem has been solved. We'll see -- watch this site.

Footnote: Two days after the UN refused in response to Inner City Press' question to confirm they were giving the Darfur force commander job to Rwandan Lt. General Patrick Nyanvumba, on Friday they announced it. Back on July 22:

Inner City Press: Can you confirm that the Rwandan Lieutenant General Patrick Nyamvumba has been appointed to replace Mr. Agwai in Darfur?

Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe: Well, if we have an appointment generally it’s announced, it’s sent to the Security Council. So if it’s not out yet, we don’t have an announcement yet.

Inner City Press: it’s reported in the Kenyan press quoting Rwandan officials…

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe: Well, the Secretary-General, when he appoints a Force Commander, writes about his intention to appoint someone like that to the Security Council. As far as I know, that letter has not gone yet.

   The letter, it's reported, was dated July 16. The UN Spokesperson's Office seems to be the last to know. Including about questions, publicly raised, about Nyamvumba....

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In Cote d'Ivoire, UN Calls Registration "Credible," Disagrees that Troops Aren't Needed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 23 -- The UN's envoy to Cote d'Ivoire Choi Young-jin told the Press on Thursday that the contester voter registration process in the run up to long promised Presidential elections was "credible," and that there is no need to draw down UN peacekeeping troops in the country at this time. Local sources say that up to 20% of those who should have been registered to vote, weren't.

Meanwhile when Inner City Press asked Cote d'Ivoire's representative at the UN on Thursday if his country needs troops or peacekeepers, he said "no." An advisor to President Gbagbo told Inner City Press that the UN is spending over $400 million a year for reporting on crime, but will remain in the country "going to the beach" because that's how the UN works.

Another way the UN works in Cote d'Ivoire is to stay quiet. Inner City Press asked Mr. Choi if his office had any involvement in inquiring into the disappearance of journalist Guy Andre Kieffer, which an Army major recently blamed on those around the President's wife Simone Gbagbo. That is a bilateral matter, Mr. Choi twice said, declining to answer further. Video here, from Minute 9:29.

UN's Choi on July 23, response on missing journalist not shown

Later Mr. Choi made a sales pitch for his mission, saying it could become the most successful of all of the UN's 18 mission because Cote d'Ivoire has a budget of $5 billion a year, and 40,000 soldiers and police, all paid by the government. Inner City Press asked him, in light of the litany of negative reviews this month of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's first two and a half years, if he had any defense to offer, or if he thought his Mission was not praised enough by the press.

Choi largely avoided the questions, other than saying he is loyal to the Secretariat. That may have done without saying -- or, compared with the behavior and refusal to file financial disclosure and otherwise obey of certain other UN envoys, perhaps not. Watch this site.

Footnote: while Inner City Press didn't ask it this time, there has still been no reporting by Choi or the UN on what discipline, if any, was meted out to the Moroccan peacekeepers repatriated from Cote d'Ivoire in the face of accusation of sexual exploitation and abuse. A report should be given.

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Uganda Won't Implement ICC Warrant on Bashir Until "Verified" by AU, Can Kony Copy?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 22 -- Uganda's foreign minister Sam Kutesa told the Press on Wednesday that his country is "obligated to implement International Criminal Court warrants" such as the one against Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, but that as a member of the African Union, Uganda is not implementing the al Bashir warrant until the AU "verifies" it. Video here, from Minute 1:24.

   While some might welcome a process for regional appeals of ICC indictments, it raises the question: why for example can't Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, who Uganda referred to the ICC, forestall execution of the ICC warrant against him by commissioning a study such as the one of Bashir? That is, how prominent does the study group have to be, to justify an ICC member not acting on an ICC indictment?

On July 17, Inner City Press asked the President of the ICC's Assembly of State Parties, Liechtenstein's Ambassador Christian Weneweser, about Uganda's positions on al-Bashir. Some in the administration of President Yoweri Museveni had said Bashir would be arrested if he came to Uganda, then Museveni said no and reportedly apologized.
  Wenewaeer said
that on July 16, he had a long conversation with Uganda's Ambassador who gave assurances was committed "to its obligations under the Rome Statute" -- that is, to arrest al Bashir. Since Museveni had invited al Bashir to Uganda, Inner City Press asked Wenaweser if this might be a set up. "Ask him the question," Wenaweser said, referring to Uganda's Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda. Video here, from Minute 6:42.

   While Inner City Press later that day did ask Uganda's Ambassador the question -- click here for the answer -- on July 22 his boss, foreign minister Kutesa, was at the UN to debate post-conflict peacebuilding. Afterwards Inner City Press asked him to clarify Uganda's position. "Uganda's position is very clear," he said, adding it is obligated to implement ICC warrants but as a member of the AU it will await the findings of the AU group headed by South African's former president Thabo Mbeki.

Ugandan minister Kutesa, AU study trumps ICC warrant, for now

   Then you will implement the warrant? Absolutely, Kutesa said, once the AU has verified the indictment.

    And if it is not verified, Inner City Press asked, then what?

"Then the AU will take a position," Kutesa said. So apparently, the African Union trumps the ICC, at least for Uganda. Watch this space.

Footnote: Minister Kutesa held a lunch for ambassador at which, one attendee told Inner City Press, he spoke in more detail about Somalia that at the Council stakeout. There, when Inner City Press asked about peacebuilding and the DRC and Somalia, he answered vaguely that both are ready for peacebuilding. Since al Shabaab is throwing at least parts of the UN out of Somalia, its readiness for the PBC is in question.

  Kutesa appeared with the suddenly omnipresent Chilean Ambassador Geraldo Munoz, chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission, head of the investigation of the murder of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, and speaker for pro Responsibiliy to Protect NGOs now at the UN. Some say Munoz is looking for a UN job. Watch this space.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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