Inner City Press


In Other Media-e.g. Somalia, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia   For further information, click here to contact us          .

Home -

Search is just below this first article

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07 7/19/07 6/29/07 6/14/7 6/1/7

How to Contact Us


Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"

Inner City Press Podcast --

UN's Ivorian Envoy Chosen Monday by Ban and Gbagbo, "Non-African Troops Should Leave"

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 26 -- In Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo's meeting Monday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the two agreed on the identity of Ban's next envoy to Cote d'Ivoire, Gbagbo told Inner City Press on Wednesday in New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. In response to this correspondent's questions about previous envoys Pierre Schori and Gerard Stoudmann, Gbagbo said that neither wanted peace, and that he could have declared them persona non grata, but preferred to have the UN simply voluntarily remove them, which happened.

            Regarding the UN's investigation into the Moroccan peacekeeping contingent in Bouake, Gbago told Inner City Press that he twice met with Moroccan soldiers and they were "fine," that the investigation was not requested by Cote d'Ivoire.

            Contrary to what Security Council diplomats have told Inner City Press, Gbagbo tried to say that no request had been made for him to address the Council. "We are not Council members," Gbagbo said. "I don't like to take a chair that is not offered to me."  He spoke before the General Assembly, and asked for a partial removal of the UN's arms embargo, and removal of UN sanctions in place against three individuals, one of whom Gbagbo described as very engaged in the peace process, having "invited the youth continent of his opponents to visit him in his village."

            "Sanctions do not help us," Gbagbo said. "The UN was too quick to send in peacekeepers. The problems in Cote d'Ivoire are small problems, smaller than those of our neighbors Liberia and Sierra Leone, to say nothing of what happened in Biafra in Nigeria."

            Asked if he wants to close down French bases in Cote d'Ivoire, Gbagbo answered in the affirmative, but indirectly. He said he entirely agrees with statements by the African Union's Alpha Omar Konare, that all non-African forces should leave the Continent.

Laurent Gbagbo: from The Baker to The Cleaner

            The press conference began nearly an hour late, and the first questions were taken by a Reuters commodities reporter, Marcy Nicholson, who perhaps not surprisingly focused on cocoa production and investment in cocoa processing factories ("usines," in French). The high-ceilinged room, decorated in vaguely surreal Versailles style, was filled by the Ivorian delegation, many of whom groaned at the commodities focus of these initial questions. A man from Washington-based Whitaker Group, is owned by Rosa Whitaker, the US's former Assistant Trade Representative for Africa, made the introductions, and controlled the wireless microphone. A man who identified himself as from "West Africa Radio" reminded Gbagbo of his old nickname, Le Boulanger (the baker), and his new one, The Cleaner (of opponents).

            "Anyone who is anybody in politics has nicknames," Gbagbo replied, joking in French that he should be called "le patissier" (the pastry chef) because he makes good "gateau" (cake). Asked if he had met French president Nicolas Sarkozy while in New York, Gbagbo said that reporters shouldn't "over-personalize" the news. He spoke briefly with Sarkozy inside the Security Council chamber. There was no drama, Gbagbo said, contrasting this with what he called his negative relationship with previous French president, Jacques Chiraq. A longtime Radio France reporter, Jean-Karim Fall, asked about reports that Gbagbo has been invited to and will be in Paris in October. Gbagbo said no, he has not been invited. Fall followed up, "Not even by UNESCO?" There was a smile of recognition.

            Before the press conference began, a DVD was projected about Gbagbo's visit "with the Muslim community in Gagnoa and Mama." There were white robes and testimonials, and an absurdly over-voiced English translation attributed to Charles Seri. There was cheering when the film came to a close.

            In fact, repeatedly throughout the press conference, the Ivorian delegation burst into applause. Even those a pamphlet handed out said that "For President Laurent GBAGBO prison is not a good place for a journalist," this room at the Waldorf did not seem like the right venue to ask about allegations surrounding the toxic waste scandal in Abidjan, about spousal issues or even, who shot at Soro's plane? Inner City Press asked about singer Alpha Blondy's comments on the plane shooting. Gbagbo's response was that he likes Alpha Blondy and has most of his records, but that he is not liable for every comment that he makes. Touche, Monsieur le President. And with his extensive entourage, Gbagbo set off down the long hallways of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, knowing the name of the next Special Representative of the Secretary-General and telling Inner City Press to ask Ban Ki-moon to confirm the name. Developing.

* * *

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 by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Search WWW Search

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service.

            Copyright 2006-07 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540