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As ECOWAS Backslides on Mali, At UN A Murky View of Guinea Bissau Plans

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 5 -- After the coup d'etats in Mali and Guinea Bissau, there was talk of fast troop deployments by the neighboring countries in ECOWAS and restoration of democracy or at least scheduled elections. Now things do no look so certain.

  Following ECOWAS' communique of May 3, several sources at the UN in New York told Inner City Press that ECOWAS was "confused" or even "blowing it." Inner City Press is putting the English version of the Communique online, here.

  "What happened to democracy?" an African diplomat asked Inner City Press rhetorically, adding with reference to the Ivorian President favored over resistant Laurent Gbagbo, "wasn't that what Outattara was supposed to be about?" Alassane Ouattara leads ECOWAS and chaired the meeting for the Communique.

  Another said of Mali, "This is what [deposed president] ATT did in 1991, take power and push elections back to use the time to show he was an OK leader. But why is ECOWAS going along?"

  With a UN Security Council session on Guinea Bissau scheduled for Monday, May 7, it had been said that ECOWAS might come at that time and ask for Council support for its moves in Mali as well.

   Now that is not so sure, even though the May 3 Communique says it will be transmitted to the "UN Security Council" seeking "support." (As to Guinea Bissau ECOWAS refers only to the "assistance" of the "UN Organization," perhaps in light of the departing Angolan mission MISSANG -- gone mission, said one wag.)

  One non-Western Council member told Inner City Press that ECOWAS "should have come and said, we are considering sending troops, please give us a Chapter 7 resolution. Now with their announcements it would be stupid to come at this time."

  UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant told Inner City Press that it would still be "better" for ECOWAS to come to the Security Council, even as he acknowledged it is a confusing situation.

Under the new Communique, ECOWAS would only send troops if requested by the Malian authorities. Meanwhile in the north of Mali, those who've taken over blasted open bank vaults in Gao, while Niger may now also be under threat.

  Regarding Guinea Bissau, several Council members expressed displeasure at how little Ban Ki-moon's envoy to the country, Joseph Mutaboba, seemed to know about what was going on.

  This follows an incident in which Mutaboba allowed a US-alleged drug kingpin to take shelter for an extended period in the UN compound. Is it time for a new envoy? Watch this site.

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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