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March 1, 2011: Libya

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On Libya, Amid Questions of Bombing TV Station, Ban Thinks It's Protecting Civilians

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9, updated -- The Security Council turned to Libya in a closed door session Tuesday morning, when China and other members criticized NATO's bombing of state television there, purportedly under the authorization of Council resolution 1973.

  Since under that resolution UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was given a "coordinating" role, Inner City Press Tuesday at noon asked Ban's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq what Ban thought of NATO's bombing of Libyan TV.

Haq replied in part that Ban "believes that resolution 1973 has been used properly in order to protect civilians in Libya.".

But, as was being asked in the Council's closed door consultations, how does bombing a TV station, in violation of conventions, protect civilians?

 Haq said the Secretariat would "need further details about what the operations that were conducted involved." But these operations took place days ago, and have been reported on. What was that, about Ban coordinating and even providing safeguards on actions under Resolution 1973?

Haq said, it is being discussed in the Council. But what about Ban's role, if not leadership? Watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press asked a well placed source in the Council's consultation if any member had invoked Radio Mille Collines in Rwanda as a precedent for bombing Libya TV. Cote d'Ivoire's Ouattara recently cited the station in connection with the probe of a pro-Gbagbo journalist. We'll see.

Update of 12:50 pm -- Inner City Press asked Brazil's Deputy Permanent Representaive what Brazil thinks of NATO's bombing of the Libya TV station. "We do not approve," she said.

Update of 1:21 pm -- Inner City Press asked the Deputy Perm Reps of Lebanon and then Germany for their countries' views on NATO's bombing of Libyan TV.

 Lebanon's DPR said her country supporters freedom of the press, notes that Resolution 1973 is for the protection of civilians; she got information today and will be seeking more.

 Germany's DPR said Germany will wait for NATO's investigation, that his country is a member of NATO but not of the coalition. He noted that at times media can incite violence against civilians. 

 So again we ask: did anyone explicitly cite Radio Mille Collines of Rwanda?

Update of 1:38 pm -- Inner City Press kept asking about NATO's bombing of Libyan TV. Bosnia's Perm Rep said waiting for more information, so no comment.

  Inner City Press asked Council president for August Hardeep Singh Puri about the Libya discussion and the TV bombing. He said it was in consultations, that UNESCO's (back-dated) statement was brought up, and that he would leave it there for now. He reiterated India's overall position, abstaining on Resolution 1973.

 Russia's Vitaly Churkin told Inner City Press he has raised it, as well as bombing of radar at the Tripoli airport, oil and other installations. He too references the NATO investigation. But how will its results be reported to the Security Council?  We will continue on this - watch this site.

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On Cote d'Ivoire, UN Has No Comment on Ouattara Suspension of Newspaper

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 8 -- When Cote d'Ivoire's Alassane Ouattara met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, his peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy and others on July 27, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman if press freedom and the case against pro-Gbagbo journalist Hermann Aboa had been raised.

  UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky replied, "I know that you also asked the President [Ouattara] about that case, and he answered you. So if there is anything further on that particular aspect, then I will let you know."

  The UN later acknowledged receiving a letter about the case, but didn't say if Ban had raised it.

  Now, Ouattara's government has suspended the newspaper Le Temps for question Ouattara's meetings in the US, including with President Obama:

Eugène Dié Kacou, the Ouattara-appointed chair of the state-run National Press Council, suspended Le Temps, a daily favorable to deposed former president Laurent Gbagbo, for 12 days in connection with a Friday column critical of the president, according to news reports.

In its ruling, the council called the writings "unacceptable insults, offenses," and accusations against heads of state... However, Ivorian journalists told CPJ that pro-Ouattara newspapers have published strident anti-Gbagbo opinions before and not faced sanctions... The council previously suspended Le Temps for six editions over a June 11 column by reporter Germain Sehoué alleging that the Ouattara government was dominated by northern Ivory Coast ethnic groups, according to news reports. The council alsosuspended Sehoué from practicing journalism for two months, accusing his writings of "inciting tribal hatred and revolt" and "threatening the consolidation of peace in Ivory Coast."  

  On August 8, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if Ban or his new envoy to Cote d'Ivoire, Bert Koenders, have any comment on this attack on press freedom, and on Ouattara giving military posts to noted human rights violators Ousmane Cherif and Martin Kouakou Fofie, the latter as head of the military in Korhogo. Video here, from Minute 6:16.

  Haq had no comment on either. When Inner City Press asked about the role of UN peacekeeping missions, including where as in Cote d'Ivoire they have "partnered" with governments, Haq disagreed on this, saying the UN has been critical of Cote d'Ivoire's governments, both past and present.

 Where are the comments on Ouattara, as he suspends the press and names human rights violators to high military jobs?

Ban & Ouattara on July 27, 2011, free press & accountability not shown

Or, some wonder, does Ban need permission from Paris, just as he is said to await it to name the next French chief of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Jerome Bonnafont or one of two other Frenchmen without military experience? Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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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