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Amid Bangui Attacks, Rebels “Visit” Journalist Donossio, UN Has No Answer

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 -- With Seleka coup leader Michel Djotodi now installed as interim president in Central African Republic, fighting with rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons has continued even in the capital, Bangui.

  As reported on Twitter by journalist Hippolyte Donossio, the Seleka “rebels” -- now, the government -- pushed their operations in the Boy-Rabe area, with injuries and killings by bullets and even RPG7.

  He quoted a Seleka general that because the guys in Boy-Rabe refused to give in to disarmament, pressure had to be brought to bear. A rocket propelled grenade hit a church during the service.

  And then, of note to many, this tweet: “Urgent, #centrafrique ça y est, les rebelles sont chez moi.”

After making some inquiries, Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access decided to ask the United Nations, which has a Central African Republic mission, led by envoy Margaret Vogt, about the fighting and what it knew and would do about the situation of journalist in danger Hippolyte Donossio.

Vogt, when Inner City Press interviewed her in person at the UN in New York, said she was just there “on vacation,” and hoped at most for a statement by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon before her report due in April.

Then in April, after she briefed the Security Council by video, Inner City Press asked her by phone about Djotodi saying he could run in future election. Vogt claimed he couldn't.

  Nevertheless, Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Ban's top three spokespeople "can the UN confirm, and most pressingly, is the UN aware of, and will it do anything about, journalist Hippolyte Donossio who has tweeted the approach of armed fighters and then fallen out of contact?"

Perhaps not surprisingly, even five hours later there has been no response from the UN about either the fighting or Hippolyte Donossio. Advocate of press freedom -- and press safety -- will have to look elsewhere. Watch this site.

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