on Cote d'Ivoire, Buzz of Martyrdom, Arms Embargo Violations,
April 7 -- The talk at the UN about Cote d'Ivoire on
Thursday was confused, ranging from predictions of Laurent Gbagbo's
impending martyrdom to a few belated hopes, of continued support from
Angola and even a Permanent Five member of the Security Council,
dissatisfaction by South Africa which was said to be sending 100
special forces troops.
Mission to the UN space event Thursday afternoon, Inner City Press
spoke with a dozen Ambassadors about Cote d'Ivoire. Some were most
concerned with their own diplomats
still trapped in Abidjan. Others
spoke of reports of arms shipments to Gbagbo to airports outside of
the day's noon
briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's
spokesman Martin Nesirky for the UN's response to the Canard Enchaine
article reporting that France armed Ouattara's forces, who were
allowed to sell gold and buy weapons in violation of the embargo.
article also describes helicopters of the UN or Force Licorne blowing
up a supermarket in Cocody.
answer about violations of the arms embargo, and of Cocody said that
the UN was defending itself and taking out heavy weapons. But who
gave Ouattara his brand new heavy weapons?
asked top UN humanitarian Valerie Amos, fresh back from Duekoue, to
respond to criticism of the UN peacekeepers for not moving to protect
civilians there, and to Ouattara envoy Yousoufou Bamba's
characterization of the NGO Caritas as “pro-Gbagbo” for alleging
told Inner City Press to ask Caritas about its numbers. But what
about the attack on this NGO as being biased pro-Gbagbo? Amos would
only say that the UN works with Caritas - she would not criticize,
apparently, anything on the Ouattara side, including broadsides
against humanitarian NGOs.
had told Inner City Press she hadn't heard about the lack of medicine
in Abidjan due to the EU sanctions that led to no ships in the port.
spoke Thursday about the independence of humanitarian work,
for the UN right now, at least in Cote d'Ivoire, it all seems to move
in lockstep. The unanswered questions is not if but now badly this
will impact the UN's credibility going forward. Watch this site.
From the UN's
April 7 transcript:
Inner City Press: On
Côte d'Ivoire, there was obviously, there is this incident of the
French freeing the Japanese ambassador; I am wondering if you have, if
the UN played any role in that. And also that the Canard
Enchaîné has come out with a report saying, among other
things, that the helicopter attacks — it doesn’t say whether it was UN
or French — blew up a supermarket in Cocody and that, essentially
implying that France has been arming the [Alassane] Ouattara forces in
violation of the arms embargo for some years. And I wanted to
know what the UN’s response is to that pretty detailed article.
Spokesperson Nesirky: On the first, the operations that have been
going on to help evacuate diplomats and other civilians are obviously
coordinated. As I mentioned to you, UN Mission staff peacekeepers
went to the Novotel hotel, where journalists have staying and they had
requested assistance. So, obviously it is coordinated; and either
Licorne — the French forces — or UN peacekeepers are carrying out
missions; it depends on the location and a number other factors.
On the reports that you referred to, I would simply say that the
operation that has been carried out was specifically aimed at
preventing the use of heavy weapons and that’s what took place.
So, what’s your next question?
Inner City Press: I have just one follow-up on that. Does the UN
have any knowledge of France providing weapons to the pro-Ouattara
Spokesperson Nesirky: I have said what I have to say, Matthew
* * *
d'Ivoire Carnage UN, Diplomats & France Focus on
& Free Japan's Ambassador, Ban to DC
April 7 -- During heavy fighting in Abidjan on April 6 when
Inner City Press at the UN asked the Deputy Permanent Representative
of a Security Council member about military
action in Abidjan, his
first response was about the plight of single fellow diplomat,
Japan's Ambassador to Cote d'Ivoire, Yoshifumi Okamura.
“philosophical,” the DPR chided Inner City Press, calling the
plight of the Japanese ambassador the most pressing problem.
asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky about
the UN not accessing the Japanese embassy, and that of the Vatican,
on the UN noon briefing on April 6. Nesirky had, or at least
provided, no answers at or after the briefing.
after Alassane Ouattara's Permanent Representative Yousoufou Bamba
told Inner City Press that pro Ouattara forces had fired back at, but
had not been able to penetrate, the Japanese embassy in Abidjan's
Cocody neighborhood -- click here
for Inner City Press' exclusive story at the time -- French soldiers of
the Force Licorne shot it out
with Gbagbo defenders, freeing Okamura and staff.
is how it has been throughout the battle of Abidjan: Ouattara's
forces are repelled by Gbagbo's, and then the French get involved,
claiming a UN mandate.
skeptics say this explains the UN and
French firing missiles from attack helicopters at Ggagbo encampments:
trying to soften them up to Ouattara's forces can push forward.
There is a
further twist in the hiearchy: what Ouattara's forces couldn't do, the
UN tried; what the UN couldn't do, like free Okamura,
the French did.
the focus of
diplomats, even from another country, on problems of their peers
means that even countries ostensibly questioning actions like
Licorne's and the UN's in Abidjan end up applauding it because
another country's diplomat is saved.
that the head of the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire is former South Korean
Ambassador to the UN Choi Young-jin.
shakes with 2 Aug 2010 Cote d'Ivoire ministers
ask, what was
Japan's Ambassador doing still living in Cocody when the “final
assault”on Gbagbo's compound there began? French expatriates
presumably with less information left other Abidjan neighborhoods to
move into military camps. Did no one tell Okamura?
isn't the way
to treat a once and future Security Council member, a close observer
mused. Or maybe it it. Watch this site.
Cote d'Ivoire: with Ban Ki-moon visiting Washington DC today to
visit with “key lawmakers,” one wonders if this will include
Senator Jim Inhofe, who for whatever reason just came out
with an analysis that Ouattara did not win the election.
reach out to Sen. Inhofe? Or will his office demand a meeting with Ban?