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At UN on Tunisia, Pillay Considers Visit But Ban Does Not, Double Standard Alleged

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 17 -- While in Tunisia Ben Ali's foreign minister Kamel Morjane, who served for years as deputy to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, still remains in his post, in New York on Monday Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky if there is any discussion of sending a UN team to Tunis.

  “Not to my knowledge,” Mr. Nesirky said. Video here, from Minute 19:48.

  Sources tell Inner City Press that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights contacted Ban Ki-moon's office to say that it is considering sending a mission to Tunisia and wanted to know if Ban's Secretariat is also making such plans, in order to coordinate.

  Ban's Office according to sources within it subsequently answered no, no plans for a mission to Tunisia.

   The sources describe a background memo to Ban about Tunisia, urging that he support efforts to override a two month Constitutional period to form a new government, granting six months so that "Communists and Islamists" don't have an advantage over "moderate forces."

  At Monday's noon briefing Nesirky was asked why Ban has been so weak in his response to Tunisia. While Nesirky contested this, some compare the response to that in Cote d'Ivoire, where Ban urged the UN General Assembly's credentials committee to remove recognition for Laurent Gbagbo's UN ambassador.

  Inner City Press asked President of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss if any similar move is afoot in the GA's credentials committee regarding Tunisia. “Not so far,” Deiss answered, explaining that the Ambassador appointed under Ben Ali had yet to be contested. Video here, from Minute 19:57.

UN's Ban & Mohamed Ghannouchi, still Prime Minister of Tunisia

  Last month Inner City Press questioned Tunisia's Ambassador in press conference at the UN after he bragged about human solidarity and banking in his country. Inner City Press asked about the youth conference Tunisia had said that it would hold. The Ambassador blamed other states for not coming through on financial pledges.

In New York over the weekend, while there was rally in Union Square, Tunisia's elegant Mission just north of the UN was not targeted. Watch this site.

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At UN on France's Cote d'Ivoire Resolution, Russia Objects on Sanctions, China "Flexible;" Kabila's DRC Change

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 -- The UN Security Council was slated to vote on January 14 on a peacekeeping resolution about Cote d'Ivoire. But the vote has been delayed, until January 18. Why?

  Inner City Press is told by Council sources that “the Westerners” -- drafter France and the United States -- loaded the resolution up with “too much politics,” getting back into the same issues which caused a long delay in issuing a mere press statement about Cote d'Ivoire.

  And so, with the clock ticking, on the January 14 day scheduled for voting France circulated another version of the resolution, with “some of the politics” removed, aiming to have this voted on January 18.

   After a Council experts meeting broke up at 5 pm on January 14, sources told Inner City Press that the remaining problem is a paragraph about sanctions that Russia is objecting to. "China is being more flexible," one said.

  Meanwhile, beyond Angola's President coming out in favor of Gbagbo, there are rumblings of other changes. A Congolese UN staffer approached Inner City Press on Friday morning to ask that Ban Ki-moon be asked what he thinks of Joseph Kabila's move to change his country's Constitution to avoid the type of run off that allowed the UN in Cote d'Ivoire to reach out and certify a winner.

UN's Ban: why rely on Gbagbo if UN certified as illegitimate?

  All told the UN's handling of Cote d'Ivoire makes it less likely, many diplomats say, that the UN will be invited in for any substantive role in their elections. Merely logistical, one African Permanent Representative told Inner City Press. “The UN should move the ballots around and pay for things, but say nothing.” We'll see.

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In Cote D'Ivoire, as UN Retreats from Gbagbo Turf, Talks Tough in NY

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 11 -- While at the UN in New York the new Ambassador of Alassane Ouattara says the UN is ready to “be firm” to remove Laurent Gbagbo from power, in Abidjan the UN peacekeepers drove away from a crowd of Gbagbo supporters, leaving behind four civilian UN employees who were then disappeared.

Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky on January 11 about an incident the previous day, in which the UN “withdrew” from a neighborhood with Gbagbo supporters in it. What are the UN's rules of engagement? How can the it protect civilians if it retreats in this way?

From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press: In Côte d’Ivoire, there’s this report of the peacekeepers retreating, as some headlines put it, or turning around, leaving a neighborhood described as being under Gbagbo’s loyalist security concerns. Can you say, is that true, and what are the terms of engagement, and are they going to return to this area? Or is that an area they’re no longer policing or able to protect people in?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, generally, obviously the Mission has a mandate to protect civilians, and has been regularly patrolling. It also has to exercise discretion where necessary. I can tell you that, referring to an incident or an instance on 10 January — in other words, yesterday — this was a logistics convoy from the Mission that comprised four civilian trucks, and it was stopped at the checkpoint near the American embassy on its way to re-supply the Golf Hotel in Abidjan. And then a few minutes later, three vehicles with some 20 defense and security force, FDS [Defence and Security Forces] elements, arrived at the location. And then a crowd of several hundred, which included five additional vehicles with 50 people from the FDS, the police and the gendarmerie, and then four civilians who were part of this convoy were taken into custody. And then, in the meantime, the crowd started looting the items from the vehicles. The peacekeepers, the UNOCI elements, left to bring reinforcements, and when they returned the three civilian trucks and the four drivers were missing.

Choi Young-jin with peacekeepers, retreat & legislative elections not shown

And UNOCI is, as I’ve been informed, is in direct contact with the FDS leadership to ascertain their whereabouts and the mission is investigating the incident and is also putting in place measures to try to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring in the future.

Inner City Press: They said 13 trucks, that seems to add up, it sounds like [inaudible] the incident that’s being --

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I’m telling you – this is from the Mission. Okay?

  No, it's NOT okay. Watch this site.

 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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