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As UN Seeks to Decertify Gbagbo Diplomat, Le Roy Reconfirms Mercenaries

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 21 -- After Cote d'Ivoire's UN Ambassador was targeted in a General Assembly speech by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, top UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy again told Inner City Press that Laurent Gbagbo is using mercenaries, and the ports of Abidjan have been blockaded.

Inner City Press asked Le Roy if the UN is asking other member states, like Nigeria or others in ECOWAS, to help break the blockade, as Ban implied. Le Roy said there is a Friday meeting of ECOWAS at which response will be decided.

Both Ban and Le Roy spoke about state media preaching hate and attacking on UN peacekeepers. Inner City Press asked if the UN would move to shut down the radio, as some in the UN say should have been done in Rwanda in 1994. Le Roy answered by contrasting a speech by Gbagbo ostensibly calling for peace with what the media is doing.

Inner City Press asked Le Roy to confirm that UN Peacekeepers have shot and killed at least one Ivorian. He said only that they had responded appropriately, but that there are more threats.

It was Le Roy's second confirmation to Inner City Press of Gbagbo's use of mercenaries. After the first one, still Ban's acting Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Tuesday at noon that it had NOT been confirmed. Video here.

  But Le Roy confirmed it again four hours later. Why did Haq deny it?

UN's Ban & Gbagbo, mercenaries and blockade not shown

In the hall of the UN's North Lawn building, Sudan's Permanent Representative greeted Ban and his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, and then the Ambassador of Nigeria and ECOWAS, and Le Roy. At the stakeout, Inner City Press asked Le Roy about Sudan's destruction of IDP camps in Darfur. We are aware of that, Le Roy said. UNAMID is on the scene. We'll see.

Footnote: Inner City Press interviewed Cote d'Ivoire's Deputy Permanent Representative both before and after Ban's speech. Before, when Inner City Press asked if he would speak, he said “nous ne sommes pas mandate.” Afterward he said Ban's speech was only about the Permanent Reprentative Djedje, and that the new Ouattara Perm Rep Mr. Joseph previously represented Gbagbo: “He's a career civil servant.” Oh, diplomacy.

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In Cote d'Ivoire Gbagbo Is Using Mercenaries, From Liberia, UN Says, US Unaware

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 20 -- Laurent Gbagbo has imported mercenaries into Cote d'Ivoire, chief UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy told Inner City Press on Monday. After Le Roy briefed the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked him to confirm or deny Gbagbo's use of mercenaries.

We have confirmed it,” Le Roy answered. Inner City Press asked from where, and after a pause Le Roy said from Liberia, “they did not speak French.”

Le Roy told the Press the UN peacekeepers will not be leaving Cote d'Ivoire, as the AU andeeper ECOWAS have recognized Ouattara as the president.

Two UN peacekeepers have been injured, Le Roy said. Asked by Inner City Press if there are clashed beyond Abidjan, he said yes, naming a town forty kilometers from the capital. And then he was gone.

An African Permanent Representative on the Council said that in the closed door consultation, Le Roy did not use the word “mercenaries,” but rather “non Ivorians.” How diplomatic.

Alain Le Roy & Jean Ping: Gbagbo mercenaries & Bashir's $9B not shown

Susan Rice spoke to the media after the Council meeting, to read out a Cote d'Ivoire press statement drafted by Mexico (as was Resolution 1502, which it cites.)

   Inner City Press asked her about Gbagbo's use of mercenaries. She said she wasn't aware of that being confirmed, but that if it was, it would be of concern not only to the US but to the Council.

She also told Inner City Press, after its question, that ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo's March 20, 2009 meeting with her and Deputy Alejandro Wolff about $9 billion Sudan's Omar al Bashir allegedly siphoned into bank accounts at Lloyds in the UK described in a cable made available by Wikileaks, was not in her “recollection.” Watch this site.

* * *

Once Ocampo Told Susan Rice of Bashir's $9 B in Lloyds, What Was Done?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 20 -- Sudan's Omar al Bashir has stashed $9 billion overseas, in Lloyds, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has told last year by International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo.

  The March 2009 meeting was memorialized in a cable Wikileaked over the weekend, see below.

  One wonders what Ambassador Rice did with this information. While Lloyds responded that it is unaware of such Bashir accounts, in January 2009 US authorities fined Lloyds $350 million for concealing the origins of wire transfers from Sudan, Iran and Libya in violation of US sanctions against the countries.

  A cynic might surmise that Ocampo chose to name Lloyds to US Ambassador Rice because of this US fine of the company, only two months before his meeting with the US Mission.

  But Lloyds so recent fine, for concealing the source of money from Sudan, would have given Rice and the Obama Administration leverage to get Bashir's accounts confirmed or denied by Lloyds at that time. Did they?

Susan Rice & UN's Ban, action on ICC report of Bashir #9 B not shown

  At issue is not only corruption by a leader indicted for war crimes and genocide: under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, oil profits were to be split between North and Southern Sudan. Southerns have alleged that the Bashir government had improperly kept and hid revenue.

  Could this have been the money? Or just a story Ocampo tried to float? What did the US Mission to the UN, State Department and Obama administration do to find out? Watch this site.

Footnote: the cable may cause major problems for Ocampo with the ICC. This explains Ocampo's fast December 18 press release putting his spin on the cable. If the Court does not hold a hearing on it, credibility will again be at issue. What do the Court's supporters have to say? The holiday seasons is no excuse.

* * *

Darfur Seems An Afterthought In Ban Ki-moon's UN, Defense of Gambari, Withholding of Massacre Reports

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 17 -- “Mister Gambari has been working very hard with the Sudanese government,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the Press on Friday of his envoy in Darfur.

  Inner City Press had asked why the UN peacekeepers under Ibrahim Gambari's UNAMID command did not leave their base when dozens of civilians were murdered in Tabarat in September, and whether Ban would at least make UNAMID's report on the killings public.

  “We will have to see,” Ban answered. But UNAMID has answered requests for copies of the report by saying it is up to the Secretary General.

Until the very end of Ban's end of year press conference, run by acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, there had been no questions or answers about Sudan, where the UN has two $1 billion peacekeeping operations. After a protest, Haq allowed the Sudan question from Inner City Press:

On Darfur, you said it was one of your priorities. As the year ends, the government of Omar al Bashir is attacking the one rebel group it supposed made peace with, the Minni Minawi group, UNAMID has no access to Jebel Marra and ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo says that UNAMID doesn't report attacks on civilians because it is threatened by the government. You summoned Ibrahim Gambari to meet you... about the massacres in Tabarat, after the UN peackeeepers didn't even leave their base in Tawila to do to the site. Even the report on these Tabarat killings is being withheld. What will you do differently in 2011?

  To this Darfur question, Ban responded largely about the Southern Sudan referendum. He said, “The situation in Sudan will be one of the top concerns of international community starting January 9... There are sticking issues, to establish a commission in Abyei.” Video here, from Minute 51:31.

  After that Ban turned briefing to Darfur, saying that “the security situation in Darfur a serious concern. The recent bombing by the Sudanese government of the north and south boundary of southern sudan... [We are] making demarches that the Sudanese government should be cooperative. This afternooon I meet the Minister for Peace and the CPA for Southern Sudan to discuss this matter.”

Of the so-called Doha process, Ban answered that the “peace negotiation has not been progressing well. Except that government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement LJM have agreed to a negotiation text. That can be done, but without participation of all other rebel movements -- JEM, SLA and Abdel Wahid -- without their participation this negotiation will not be sustainable. Joint mediator Bassole is asserting his best efforts.”

Then Ban defended Ibrahim Gambari, saying that “Mister Gambari has been working very hard with the Sudanese government... to have freedom of movement of UN peacekeepers.”

  This implies that the peacekeepers in Tawila for example tried to go to the Tabarat or Tabra site but were stopped by the government. But internal UN communications obtained by Inner City Press show that the UN Peacekeepers told relatives of those being killed and injured that they had come to late, to come back in the morning.

UN's Ban & Gambari, report on Tabarat massacre not shown

Now the report on the incident is being withheld, with UNAMID saying it is up to the Secretary General, who when asked would not released, instead speaking of “consultations.”

Inner City Press also asked if the report on Sri Lanka war crimes inquiries by Ban's three person Panel of Experts will be made public. Ban did not answer this either. Watch this site.

Footnote: There was widespread dissatisfaction in the UN press corp about how acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq ran the press conference, and about lack of question and answer opportunities with Ban Ki-moon throughout 2010. Ban said he will make an announcement in early 2011 about seeking a second term as S-G. We'll see.

 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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