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At UN, Ouattara Rep Predicts Cairo in Cote d'Ivoire, Says Zuma Should Defer to Panel Chair Mauritania

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 16, updated -- With banks and the stock exchange closing in Cote d'Ivoire, at the UN the Alassane Ouattara Ambassador Yousoufou Bamba told Inner City Press of defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo that “after the conclusion of the [African Union] Panel, he has to go, he will go forcibly, the people will pour into the streets.”

But whether Abidjan is analogue to Cairo or Tunis is open to question. Bamba also spoke to Inner City Press about the recent statements and upcoming travel of South African president Jacob Zuma.

Zuma is playing the leadership,” Bamba said. “He shouldn't -- there is a chair, Mauritania.” He said that Blaise Campoure, the President of Burkina Faso, will remind him.

South Africa points out that Zuma has not called for a vote recount. “Yet,” one could hear.

[Update: South Africa's press release repeatedly notes Mauritania's leadership, here. But see this article, "SA moves to neutral stance on Ivory Coast vote."]

Bamba snarked, when Inner City Press asked about Laurent Gbagbo's lawsuit against ECOWAS declaring Ouattara the winner, that it is surprising to see Gbagbo suddenly become interested in the rule of law.

UN's Ban Ki-moon and Bamba at swear-in, (c) MRLee

Meanwhile, the UN has yet to answer Inner City Press' questions about the delay in getting the attack helicopters and troops from UNMIL into Cote d'Ivoire. Inner City Press asked for confirmation of Ukraine's demand that the copter fly in pairs, and that DPKO had to travel to Niger, Togo and a third unnamed country to drum up the troops -- which were supposed to be Liberia. These questions should be answered.

And why, Inner City Press has asked, has lead UN envoy in Cote d'Ivoire Choi Young-jin not filed public financial disclosure, which Ban Ki-moon has claimed 99% of his officials have done? Watch this site.

Footnote: at the Committee to Protect Journalists' press conference at the UN on February 15, Inner City Press asked for CPJ's review of the UN's action on press freedom in Cote d'Ivoire. CPJ's Joel Simon said that the UN's statements about incitement to violence by Ivorian state media seemed "ad hoc" and that a better approach is needed. He did not comment on the UN's strange silence on the arrest of journalists Sanogo and Charly. We'll see.

* * *

At UN, Ouattara's Bamba Says Month Too Long, Chad Too Far, Gbagbo Cut Lights

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 4 -- As the UN Security Council agreed on elements to the press deferring to the African Union's High Level Panel on Cote d'Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara's ambassador Yousoufou Bamba told Inner City Press that the AU outcoming “wasn't quite progress.”

Speaking exclusively to Inner City Press on the steps outside the Council chamber, Bamba said “one month is too long,” referring to the time given to the AU Panel. “It gives time to Gbagbo,” Bamba said.

Inner City Press asked about the inclusion by the AU on its panel of Idriss Deby of Chad. “Too far,” Bamba replied. He might have said the same of South Africa, which proposed the Council press statement.

In light of reports of water and electricity cut off to Abobo and other Ouattara strong holds, Inner City Press asked Bamba if he thought Gbagbo was behind them. Yes, he said, “and also to the North, every night. Doing so, let us say, he is losing his last support.”

UN envoy Choi Young-jin had been billed for an on camera stakeout, but did not do it. Several UN correspondents complained.  Inner City Press rushed back from the UN noon briefing to find Mr. Choi speaking off camera to three reporters. While we will aim to have more on that, Inner City Press asked about the two journalists arrested after flying with the UN from Bouake to Abidjan.

Choi said they had landed and were in a taxi when arrested. Why was the UN flying them? Choi said the UN has been flying people for Gbagbo and Ouattara for some time. And still for Gbagbo? “If he asks,” said Choi.

Choi would not speak of the helicopters voted on by the Council two weeks ago, of which Inner City Press reported this morning that Ukraine's parliament has now approved. Bamba confirmed this. (The Brazilian President of the Council said it had not come up, when Inner City Press asked after the press statement.)

Of Choi, Bamba said he called the Prime Minister at 2 am while patrolling Abobo. Others say there will be a big Korean reception in New York, including Choi, when Ban Ki-moon returns. We'll see.

* * *

On Cote d'Ivoire at UN, S. Africa Proposes Elements on AU, Ukraine Copter Vote

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 4 -- As the UN Security Council met Friday about Cote d'Ivoire, the closed doors consultations left many questions hanging. After Inner City Press for three days asked the UN why the helicopters voted on by the Council on January 21 were still not in Abidjan, the reason became clear, not from the UN but Kiev.

  Ukraine just approved the shift of copters from Liberia to Ivory Coast - click here. Why didn't the UN just say that?

Inner City Press asked Alassane Ouattara's Ambassador Bamba about the two journalists, reportedly Forces Nouvelles affiliated, whom the UN transported on January 28 from Bouake to Abidjan, where they were arrested as rebels. I don't have anything on that, Ambassador Bamba said.

Another Ivorian Mission source called the case an “outrage” - but the UN and Choi Young-jin have yet to. Mr. Choi has said he will talk to the Press after the consultations.

A Permanent Five member's Permanent Representative emerged and told Inner City Press that South Africa is proposing a Council press statement (actually, elements to the press) in support of the African Union mediation including South African President Jacob Zuma. Another diplomat shook his head and said this would “make Gbagbo happy.”

Zuma & UN's Ban, recount of Gbagbo-Ouattara votes not yet shown

Following the Security Council's unceremonious ouster of the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General under Martin Nesirky, on Friday representatives of UNESCO and, it was said, UNICEF were told they could not even wait in the Quiet Room of the Council. Paranoia, one agency rep called it. And so it goes.

* * *

At UN, Deal with Russia on Cote d'Ivoire Resolution Has Bamba Staying Silent, Speaks Afterwards to Inner City Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, January 19 -- As the UN Security Council on Wednesday morning belatedly adopted a resolution increasing UN forces and focus in Cote d'Ivoire, the new Alassane Ouattara appointed Ambassador Yousoufou Bamba sat at the Council table but did not speak.

On Tuesday, when the UN troops four week period ran out and the resolution was supposed to be adopted, arguments in the Council's closed door consultations focused on the procedural question of whether Ouattara's Ambassador Bamba could sit at the Council's horseshoe table, and if he could speak.

Russia opposed this, as well as demanding that the phrase “without prejudice to the freedom of expression” be added before a call to halt Radiodiffusion Television Ivoirienne (RFI) from “incit[ing] hatred and violence, including against the UN and particularly UNOCI.”

After Bamba sat in the meeting for the vote approving the amended resolution but did not speak, Inner City Press sent Bamba a text message asking for his reasons. He emerged from the Council and told Inner City Press, “I voluntarily chose not to speak, with the support of the African members, not to create a breach in the unity of the Council.”

Later it was explained to Inner City Press by the Permanent Representative of an African country not currently on the Council that it was mostly South Africa which implored Bamba not to speak, in order they said that the world not see that the Council is not, in fact, united.

Inner City Press asked Bamba about Russia's demand that “without prejudice to the freedom of expression” be added to the resolution. Bamba said that's “not to silence their side” -- seeming to say that the Gbagbo “side” is Russia's side.

After a pause, Bamba came back to tell Inner City Press that “on behalf of the Ouattara administration,” he appreciates the increase in UNOCI's “defensive force” - he pointed at the phrase about “three armed helicopters with crews from UNMIL” as he said this -- and the RTI paragraph and “especially,” he said “the lifting of the blockage of the Golf Hotel without delay.” We'll see.

 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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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