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Gambia Coup Bid In UNSC After Ban, Reuters Misreported

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 1 – After the coup attempt in The Gambia, but before the 10 am UN Security Council meeting on the subject, UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon issued a 123 word statement calling for restraint and an investigation of the attempt in the The Gambia, albeit not mentioning the name of the target of the coup, Yahya Jammeh.

  After the Security Council's 45-minute meeting, Inner City Press asked the Council's president who is supposed to do the investigation Ban had called for before the meeting. He responded that UN official Chambas will go to Banjul; Inner City Press later learned and published that this will take place on January 2.

  Reuters however reported that "Following brief talks at the U.N. Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a transparent investigation into the events and also urged restraint."

 This is false.

   Ban's statement was at 9:37 am; the Security Council meeting didn't start until 10 am, and didn't end until 10:45 am. (At that time, Inner City Press asked Ban's Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman for more detail; he replied that since Ban had issued a statement, he had nothing to add -- all too common at the UN, as pointed out and opposed by the Free UN Coalition for Access.)

  Reuters was not present at the UN Security Council stakeout before, during or after the meeting on Gambia (Tweeted photo here), and apparently not in the UN building either. The crediting on the above quoted story is "Reporting by David Lewis and Diadie Ba in Dakar, Lesley Wroughton in Washington, Louis Charbonneau in New York; Writing by David Lewis and Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Giles Elgood."

  Six journalists listed; one outright falsehood. What does Reuters do in these cases? We've asked management including Stephen J. Adler before, amid censorship, with no real answer. #ReutersFail.

  Since then, African Union commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has expressed "preoccupation" and rurged deepening "democracy and the respect for human rights."

  By the time of Ban's 9:37 am December 31 statement, later misrepresented by Reuters, the US had already issued a statement: “The United States is aware of reports of a coup attempt on December 30 in The Gambia. We strongly condemn any attempt to seize power through extra-constitutional means. We regret the loss of life and call on all parties to refrain from further violence.”

    Thirteen hours later when Ban Ki-moon issued his statement, he went a bit further and cited calm and called for an investigation, apparently by Jammeh's government itself:

“The Secretary-General is following closely developments in The Gambia. He reiterates the United Nations principled condemnation of all attempts to seize power through unconstitutional means. Referring to reports that indicate that the situation in Banjul is calm, he calls for all parties to exercise restraint and to refrain from further violence.

“Noting the seriousness of any attempt to overthrow governments by force, the Secretary-General encourages the establishment of a transparent investigation into the events of 30 December, in compliance with due process and respect for the rule of law. In that regard, he urges the Government of The Gambia, and its security and defense forces to act in full respect for human rights. The United Nations will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

  When the UN Security Council meeting on the topic began at 10:10 am on December 31, there were tumbleweeds at the stakeout in front. Some may denounce The Gambia, but at the UN or at least in its press corp, there is not apparently much interest.

  When the meeting ended, in less than 45 minutes, Inner City Press asked Feltman about it. He said since the SG had issued a statement, he had nothing to add. In 2015, the Free UN Coalition for Access will be pressing for all UN Under Secretaries General to answer questions.

  Finally, the Security Council's president for December, from Chad, came and summarized the meeting, saying that UN official Chambas, previously the head of UNAMID in Darfur, will file a report. There have been problems with UNAMID's reporting.

 (Again in terms of micro-news, Inner City Press is exclusively told by sources that Chambas will go to Gambia on Friday, January 2. Since the UNSC President was asked on camera when Chambas would go and only said "soon," call it a coup scooplet.)

  Inner City Press asked the outgoing Security Council president about the December 30 closed door meeting about Sudan throwing out two UN officials, Yvonne Helle and Ali Al-Za'tari. He said he couldn't speak, nothing had been agreed to. Which is why the UN Secretariat should have spoken and taken questions, as FUNCA requested and will continue to request in 2015. Watch this site.


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