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In Cote d'Ivoire, Questions of Cocoa Customs, Ouattara Calls for Special Forces

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 6 -- As the stand-off in Cote d'Ivoire continues, talk around the UN in New York turned to money: specifically, how to cut off Laurent Gbagbo's funds. The US applied financial sanctions to Gbagbo and his wife Simone. France, it was said, was looking into how the Gbagbo government continues to collect customs, particularly on cocoa.

  Inner City Press asked an Ivorian diplomat, now representing Alassane Ouattara, how he is getting paid. The diplomat shook his head and said “it is difficult.” Others say that automatic payments continue to Ivorian diplomats for now, but may soon stop.

  While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon mentioned in his read out of a call with Ouattara that he took note of Ouattara's call for an International Criminal Court investigation, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman what he thought of Ouattara urging a “special forces” operation:

Inner City Press: Mr. Ouattara in Côte d’Ivoire has said that he’s written to Ban Ki-moon, asking for some sort of an ICC [International Criminal Court] investigation in Côte d’Ivoire. Can you confirm receipt of that letter? And also, he’s also called for a special operations action against Laurent Gbagbo, presumably to remove him from the country or otherwise. What does the UN think of that call?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, on the first one, we’re checking to see whether there’s been a letter, but what I would mention is that, as I think you know, the Secretary-General spoke to President Ouattara by telephone, and — that was on 1 January — and on the readouts, we said that the Secretary-General took note of President Ouattara’s call, during their conversation, for an early International Criminal Court investigation as a credible signal for accountability. On the second point, we’ve seen those reports. As we’ve repeatedly said, we support the diplomatic efforts of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] and the African Union. They’re working hard to find a political solution to what is obviously a very difficult situation, and we think it’s important that they are allowed to have the time to make that diplomatic process work.

Inner City Press: Would it be fair to say that the UN doesn’t look favourably on the idea of special operations? Is that what you’re saying?

Spokesperson: I’m saying that the diplomatic process is an important aspect here. ECOWAS and the African Union have been playing an important role, which the Secretary-General supports. And, as I’ve mentioned, he is in close touch with ECOWAS and the African Union on this matter.

  Security Council sources tell Inner City Press that during the negotiation of the most recent Press Statement on Cote d'Ivoire, there was a request that the statement call for a “peaceful” solution, but that the United States did not want this word in.

UN's Ban and Djedje, now on US OFAC sanctions list

The Council source asked Inner City Press, rhetorically, “Isn't the UN supposed to be about peaceful solutions?” And what about that call by Ouattara for a special forces operation? Watch this site.

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As UN Misses Gbagbo Forces' Deadly Raid on Opposition Office, Ban's Spokesman Passes Buck to DPKO Missions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 4 -- What is the UN doing in Cote d'Ivoire and whom is it protecting? After forces of Laurent Gbagbo raided the offices of the opposition Democratic Party of Ivory Coast, Inner City Press asked the UN to confirm whether one or four people had been killed, and to state where other that the Golf Hotel is it protecting, even just in Abidjan.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky, who earlier spoke about the ONUCI Mission's “patrols,” replied that UN peacekeepers had “sought to gain access but it was not yet possible.”

Inner City Press asked whether the UN was purporting to protect offices of opposition political parties, or by implication their officials.

The focus is the Golf Hotel,” Nesirky said. As the UN says when civilians are slaughtered or raped in Eastern Congo, he said UN peacekeepers “can't be everywhere all the time.” Here we're talking about a foreseeable attack on an opposition politicial party's office right in Abidjan. The UN couldn't be there?

Outside the UN Security Council, Inner City Press learned that the Council will in all probability have consultations on Cote d'Ivoire on January 5. “We're still consulting” a source told Inner City Press, “but it looks like it will be tomorrow.

At the noon briefing, Nesirky added that he would “defer to [his] colleagues in the Mission” to provide further answers. Video here, from Minute 22:22.

UN's Le Roy meets Ouattara, answers on protection of offices not shown

  Nesirky, who is the spokesman not only for Ban Ki-moon but for the UN Secretariat, which includes UN peacekeeping missions, increasingly engages in this passing of the buck. In just the past ten days, he has told Inner City Press to go ask the UN Mission in Kosovo about a UN judge who let an organ theft defendant go free.

  He has allowed the UN - African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur to go 11 days without answering a question about rape by Sudan government officials right next to UN peacekeepers.

  Most recently Nesirky has told to go ask MINUSTAH in Haiti how much the UN pays an official. We'll have more on that one, and the others. 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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