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At UN, Bonnafont Has Kudos of French Pol Bockel - & Peacekeeping Post?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, August 20 -- For the seven weeks after Inner City Press first reported that Jerome Bonnafont, France's ambassador to India, was being tapped to replace fellow Frenchman Alain Le Roy as chief of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the UN has refused to confirm it.

  Now with Alain Le Roy already gone from the UN, amid charges of covered up negligence by peacekeepers in Southern Kordofan, and a failure to plan in advance for medical evacuation of Ethiopian UN peacekeepers in Abyei in Sudan, the French political establishment has already started congratulating Bonnafont.

  Inner City Press is today putting online a letter of congratulations addressed to Bonnafont at the UN in New York from Jean-Marie Bockel, a former French minister and mayor of Mulhouse, now Senator from Haut-Rhin in northern France.

  Bochel wrote, "I am happy to learn that you have been [named] Under Secretary General of the UN, in charge of peacekeeping operations."

  Previously, Inner City Press quoted diplomats to whom Bonnafont had already bragged that he had the UN job. Now Bonnafont is receiving letters of congratulations.

  There are several questions: why has the UN left the top job in DPKO empty at this time, when they had ample notice that Le Roy would leave on August 10?

  Why hasn't the UN been willing to describe their process for selecting a replacement? (One UN-based Permanent Representative said that besides Bonnafont there were two other candidates -- both French.)

Why does the top Peacekeeping slot essentially belong to France? Inner City Press asked Le Roy in his exit press conference if he didn't think it would make sense that his successor come from a major Troop Contributing Country, like Pakistan or Bangladesh or Nepal or India. Le Roy said, "It is up the Secretary General." Is it?

  Some joke that in naming Bonnafont, Ban Ki-moon is trying to please two countries: France bien sur, but also India since Bonnafont has been ambassador to India and is known there. Cold comfort.

Bonnafont at Fashion Week in India, 9/11/09, Bockel congrats to come

  This is more and more a pattern with Ban Ki-moon. When the top spot at the UN mission in Iraq opened up, when Dutchman Al Merkert said he wanted to leave after two years, there were only three final candidates: all German.

  Inner City Press on June 24 reported that Michael von der Schulenburg, the German atop the UN in Sierra Leone, wanted the Iraq post, perhaps due to its antiquities, and that "Dutch politician Bert Koenders is set to replace UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's ally Choi Young-jin" at the UN in Cote d'Ivoire.

  As it turned out, Ban for Iraq set up a German troika of candidates, just as he's said to have constructed a phantom French troika for DPKO. Ultimately Ban gave the Iraq job to another German, Martin Kobler.

  But for DPKO, Bonnafont is already being congratulated from within the French political establishment, click here and watch this site.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

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

* * *

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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