Admits Belarus Copter Mistake in Cote d'Ivoire, Refuses
to Answer Questions
March 2 -- A day after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's
spokesman Martin Nesirky declined to admit Ban had made any mistake
that helicopters from Belarus were delivered to Cote
d'Ivoire's defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo, the chief of UN
Peacekeeping admitted that the allegation had been false, and that he
had apologized to Belarus.
March 1, Inner
City Press submitted written questions to Nesirky, then asked
Press: what do you learn from this? When has Ban Ki-moon in the
past issued this type of, yes, “half-baked” might be one word;
this is the kind of words that are being thrown around out there.
What’s the standard for the Secretary-General to put out a
statement such as he did on Monday morning?
As I said, given the seriousness of the matter, and the
explanation that I have given, - it may have been long; it was nearly
as long as your question – to try to, it was an attempt to try to
be clear. That’s why I wanted to give it in some detail. Given
the seriousness of the matter, it was decided that this would be
raised publicly. And again, the other point with this is that any
deployment of attack helicopters would clearly present a serious
threat to civilians, to peacekeepers, and so on.
Press: I am thinking, contrasting it to things, for example in
Darfur where the UN is so cautious in terms of, even when things or
bombs are falling, they say, “we can’t say”...it’s perfectly
fine that it’s a long answer; I am just wondering, it doesn’t
seem to directly address the idea that this was an improper
side-taking; that it reflects sort of a lack of judgment. Do you
accept that? Is there any re-thinking of the Secretariat’s part
that maybe that was a mistake what went out Monday morning?
admit any mistake. He also did not even acknowledge receipt of
written questions from Inner City Press, including
press release issued on Sunday, which was picked up by news
services around the world, the SG urgently requested a meeting of the
Security Council on Cote d'Ivoire. How many times over the past year
has the Secretary-General urgently requested meetings of the Security
Council on other matters? Please specify the situations and dates
upon which he issued such calls.
UN"s Ban gets out of a copter, explanation not shown
accountable (and responsible) for the content of the "news
stories" that are put out by UN News Service on the webpage
called "UN News Center"? Does the UN News Service operate
with editorial independence of the Office of the Secretary-General,
or do they take instructions from the Secretary-General or his
advisers on the content of stories?
responsible (meaning what was the name of the individual who
issued the instruction) for removing and then reediting and reissuing
a UN News Service story concerning the Secretary-General's claim that
Belarus had violated Security Council sanctions by allowing
helicopters to be dispatched to Cote d'Ivoire? Yes or no, will the UN
admit that the UN News Service received instructions from the Office
of the Secretary-General to remove the first story, edit it
substantially, and replace it with a second story, without issuing a
correction which acknowledged the substantial changes made to the
the SG's accusations against Belarus, Google News has indexed more
than a thousand actual news stories which reference the allegations.
Is the UN going to request corrections or make a statement saying it
no longer stands behind those allegations?
the revised version of the Belarus-Cote d'Ivoire story posted
yesterday afternoon by the UN News Service, the following sentence
was added: "On Monday, some media reports identified Belarus as
the source of the helicopters and equipment." Please respond to
the idea that the UN itself was the source of the allegation that
Belarus had violated sanctions by providing helicopters to Cote
Nesirky not answered any of these questions 30 hours later -- he has
not even acknowledged receipt of the questions, and he took no
questions at the noon briefing. Inner City Press asked Le Roy how
the UN would correct the media stories that had been based on the
UN's false report, and if the incident would undermine UN claims to
impartiality in Cote d'Ivoire. Watch this site.
* * *
d'Ivoire Copter Claim Disproved, Even to France,
1 -- The allegation
Cote d'Ivoire's defiant
leader Laurent Gbagbo received three attack helicopters from Belarus,
made on the morning of February 28 by UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon, has been rejected not only by Russia but even France,
City Press learned on March 1.
Council, France's Ambassador Gerard Araud told Inner City
Press, “we know there were not flights.”
told Inner City Press he has raised objections to senior
people in the Secretariat. Shaking his head, he said it's his
understanding that a communication from Cote d'Ivoire that “there
are no helicopters” was misrepresented as “there are
and from some is, was it intentional?
Representative, president of the Council for February and
ongoing chair of the Cote d'Ivoire sanctions committee, told Inner
City Press that she had spoken with Belarus' charge d'affaires as
early as Saturday night, resulting in a strong denial.
that the flights had occurred on February 26 or 27, and the consensus
Monday morning was that no such flight happened. So why did Ban
Ki-moon do it, and then his Secretariat tried to erase some reports
on it? We have asked Ban's spokesperson's office, for today. Watch this
consensus, it is predicted including by Russia's Vitaly
Churkin that the General Assembly vote to expel Libya from the Human
Rights Council, scheduled for Tuesday at 3 pm, will be unanimous,
after which Russia (and Egypt, China and Venezuela) should speak.
* * *
d'Ivoire Copter Claim Rejected, Diplomats Complain
28 -- In accusing
of sending three attack
helicopters to Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d'Ivoire, UN Secretary
Ban Ki-moon made a mistake, several Security Council Ambassadors told
Inner City Press on Monday night.
“I don't know
where Ban gets this stuff,” one Ambassador told Inner City Press at
the End of Council Presidency reception at the Brazilian Permanent
Representative's residence on 79th Strreet in Manhattan.
“He better have
the facts before he accuses a member states,” another said. Ban had
called for an emergency Council meeting, which was denied. The
Sanctions Committee met, and concluded that evidence did not exist.
Service took down and changed its story; a publication of Ban's
remarks to the Holocaust Museum in Washington Monday afternoon was
also taken down. In Cote d'Ivoire itself, a document described as UN
orders to shoot at civilians was circulated. It is all breaking down
for Ban, a third Ambassador said, shaking his head.
joke at the
reception was that a no fly zone over Libya should be enforced by
Ban's “imaginary” helicopters from Belarus.
asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if the Ukrainian helicopters
that the Security Council ordered in December, on Ban's urgent
request, had yet arrived. He said he would check and get back, but
nine hours later there was no answer.
briefing transcript of Monday
is there anything further you can tell us about the
substantiation of the reports of attack helicopters from Belarus
going into Côte d'Ivoire, and where is the source of information?
What source of information did the Secretary-General rely upon to put
out the statement that he did on his concern about that?
what I can tell you is that the Group of Experts established
by the Security Council to monitor the arms embargo against Côte
d'Ivoire reported that it had received information that three attack
helicopters and related equipment were going to be delivered to the
forces loyal to Mr. [Laurent] Gbagbo. That’s what I can tell you
on that. Yeah?
just to follow up: Did he express, by the nature of the
information, was this intelligence from other Governments…?
don’t think I am in a position to give you further details on
that particular aspect of it. But what I can tell you is that a team
made up of members of this Group of Experts and a UNOCI [United
Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire] officer from the UN Mission’s
Embargo Cell travelled to the airport that we have been talking
about, but was unable to verify the information and indeed was forced
to withdraw. And despite the severe restrictions on the Mission's
freedom of movement, the Mission continues to monitor activities at
the airport in order to verify these reports.
one more thing, if you will. Do we know that it’s only some
of the parts put together of these helicopters have arrived, or all
the components have arrived? The process — what do we know of what
sort of stage it is in?
at the moment as I say, the Mission is continuing to monitor
activities at the airport in order to verify these reports. And as I
have said, the Group of Experts, which was established by the
Security Council to monitor this embargo, had reported that it had
received information that these three attack helicopters and related
equipment were going to be delivered. So that is where we are at the
moment. So, further questions. Yes, Masood? And them I’ll come
to… Matthew, is this a follow-up on this topic?
One quick follow-up, yeah. I just wanted to know…
there are these reports of the UNOCI peacekeepers saying that they
were forced to return fire… I guess I just wanted to know what is
the status of that reported fighting between supporters of Gbagbo and
UNOCI, what the rule… some would question, I guess, what can you
say about that? It seems like a big development.
have been a number of developments as you know, in recent
days, simply because there has been a turn in the nature of the
fighting on the ground, as you will have seen and heard. The
Secretary-General has made clear his concern about the threats that
have been made again and repeatedly to Mission members who are
carrying out a Security Council-mandated role in Côte d'Ivoire.
there have been incidents, including where police, UN police or
peacekeepers have been forced to fire into the air. If we have more
details on that, then I would be able to let you know.
And are those helicopters — those Ukrainian, I guess
they are Ukrainian — helicopters from UNMIL [United Nations Mission
in Liberia], have they now arrived, the ones that were supposed to
me check, let me check on that. I think there was some
movement, but let me check.
there were no answers, only complaints against Ban by Security
Council member diplomats. Watch this site.
Click for Mar 1, '11
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