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March 1, 2011: Libya

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At UN, Ouattara Says Jailed Journalist Aboa “Paid by Gbagbo to Buy Arms”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 27, updated  -- When Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire offered thanks to the press at the UN on Wednesday, it raised questions about media freedom since he has been in power. Inner City Press asked Ouattara about the case of Hermann Aboa, a pro-Gbagbo journalist now facing life in prison for, among other things, “endangering state security.”

Ouattara began by referring to the precedent of Radio Mille Collines in Rwanda, saying that Aboa “called on hate, hatred.” Video here, from Minute 13:56. But press freedom experts have rejected this analogy, after viewing RTI footage like this.

  Ouattara went on to say Aboa got money from Gbagbo “to buy arms, to distribute arms to mercenaries.” Then why focus on Aboa's speech?

Inner City Press asked about the FRCI, under Guillaume Soro, taking over pro-Gbagbo media organizations in Abidjan, and also reportedly shaking down miners and others.

  Ouattara said Soro's Forces Nouvelles are being “merged” with “Mister Gbagbo's Army” and that commanders will be held responsible. So what about Douekoue?

Inner City Press asked the spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who met with Ouattara on Wednesday morning, if as requested he had raise the case of Hermann Aboa. Spokesman Martin Nesirky said he didn't know, even if the request had been received. We will continue on this.

Update of 3:20 pm - Ban's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq has just "squawked" that Ban "was made aware" of the letter about Hermann Aboa and press freedom.  But still not answered: did Ban raise the issues to Ouattara?  There's only a read out that doesn't mention the issue, click here to view.

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In Cote d'Ivoire, Choi Wants to Leave, Delayed Elections & Douekoue Process

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 18 -- After Choi Young-jin briefed the Security Council Monday about Ivory Coast, he did an interview with Korea Broadcasting. Then he took five questions from Inner City Press at the regular UN Television camera. He essentially confirmed that he is leaving, saying that he'd told Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that it makes more sense to have a new envoy in place for the “next chapter in Cote d'Ivoire.”

  Choi had previously said he would stay through the parliamentary elections, but that seems to no longer hold. Inner City Press asked about these; Choi said they were slated for the end of the year but face a number of challenges, including looted electoral offices and consideration of adding 50 to 75 seats.

  Inner City Press asked Choi about the the continued “house arrest” of Laurent Gbagbo: does the UN think that he should be charged? Choi described his visit to Gbagbo, including Gbagbo jokingly asking his doctor if he's healthy, but did not opine on detention without charge.

  Pressed, Choi said that there are processes underway at the International Criminal Court and in Cote d'Ivoire, but they are in “preliminary” stages. So much for the UN and habeus corpus.

Choi & Ban Ki-moon: hello, now goodbye?

  Nor has action been taking on the killings in Douekoue, which Choi said were “two thirds” committed by forces supporting Ouattara. Inner City Press asked Choi what has been done and he described meeting with Ouattara, who in turn called in the prime minister and zone commanders and promised no impunity. We'll see.

Footnote: as Choi left the Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press joked to him that since Ban Ki-moon ran for a second term without any alternative candidate, he hadn't needed anyone to run his campaign as Choi did in 2006. Choi and his two aides laughed and then were gone.

  Inner City Press asked the Korea Broadcasting crew, thinking they might have insight into Choi's next assignment, in Seoul or for the UN, "what do you think he'll be doing next?" One said, "Having lunch."

* * *

Leaked French Memos Discuss Destablizing Gbagbo, Coup Plots & Leaders

By Matthew Russell Lee, 2d in Exclusive series

UNITED NATIONS, April 13 -- French government memos obtained by Inner City Press reflect, as far back as 2005, France and the UN wanted to “put in place a plan of action to destablize Laurent Gbagbo.” See document here, under the rubric “From New York: Departure of Gbagbo.”

  The French were monitoring, to say the least, plans for a coup d'etat against Gbagbo, that would result in Gbagbo's “displacement” outside of Cote d'Ivoire. See document here.

  France's internal reporting on military forces and leaders in Cote d'Ivoire is here.

  Also obtained by Inner City Press is the French analysis of the “failure” of African leaders Tandja, Mbeki of South Africa and Obasanjo of Nigeria -- later given UN mandates and pay elsewhere. Click here and here for French analyses of the three heres, and here again for a French memo on the intentions of Guillaume Soro, referring to another childhood friend of Gbagbo and his “ethnie Bete” -- Bete ethnicity.

After Inner City Press' publication on April 8 of the first installment in this series, which endeavors to use primary documents as background to recent action in Cote d'Ivoire -- as well as to question why a French diplomat, Romain Serman, arrested in New York for attempt purchase of cocaine and resisting arrest, has resurfaced as France's general consul in San Francisco -- Yousoufou Bamba, who has represented the forces of Alassane Ouattara at the UN for months, called Inner City Press.

Bamba, who has always been amiable and on the record, complained he thought Inner City Press is “being used,” adding that in Ivory Coast, these French documents are seen as helping Gbagbo. But question then the contents of the documents.

And on l'affaire Serman, France has not come forward with any explanation of re-sending Serman or of the other documents -- such explantions or comment would of course be published here -- and the US Mission to the UN has yet to answer questions it confirms it received from Inner City Press over the weekend, to know

as quickly as possible, whether the US was informed / aware of French diplomat Romain Serman's arrest in New York in 2006 for attempted purchase of cocaine and resisting arrest before Serman re-appeared in the US as France's current general consul in San Francisco.

See, e.g.,

Separately, please comment on the applicability of US law and precedent to this case, l'affaire Serman.

This is something the US State Department should be able to answer. Watch this site.

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

 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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