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On Togo, ICP Asked If UN Blesses Gnassingbe to 2030, Spox Won't State SG View, Walks Out

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video here

UNITED NATIONS, September 11 – After major protests in Togo were cracked down on with authorities shooting and killed two or seven protesters, Inner City Press on August 21 and 22 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, with no UN comment whatsoever. Video here; UN August 22 transcript here, and below. Now after UN envoy Chambas reportedly gave his blessing to Gnassingbe staying in power until 2030, Inner City Press on September 11 asked Dujarric about this statement to a wire service, and whatever its accuracy, whether this is Antonio Guterres' position. Dujarric emphasized it was a call to Reuters (his partners in Press censorship, here and here), then said he was trying to check the quote and wouldn't say anything about Guterres position until he had. Then amid attempted follow up questions, Dujarric walked of the podium. Inner City Press on the morning of August 30 asked Dujarric and his two top deputies: "In Togo, 15 supporters of the opposition Pan African National party (PAN), who were arrested during a protest against President Faure Gnassingbe 10 days ago, appeared in court yesterday and were given sentences ranging from five to nine months; the party’s Secretary General, Dr Kossi Sama, was sentenced to 18 months in prison including 9 months without parole. What is the UN's comment? And separately, what are the dates and itinerary of envoy Chambas' visit to Togo?" Hours later, nothing - nothing at all. On September 6, after Duajrric had refused to answer 18 of Inner City Press' 21 questions, Inner City Press asked, UN Transcript here: Inner City Press: in Togo, when you left, there had been the shooting of protesters by the Government and you or Farhan said that Mr. [Mohamed ibn] Chambas was going.  So, now that there's a protest there today, and quite a bit of crackdown, slowing down and turning off of the Internet, can you say if Mr. Chambas has gone and what the UN has done? Spokesman:  "Right.  I'll get… I don't have an update on his travels." Then on September 8, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:   On Togo.  There's been the use of tear gas, people stayed out all over night.  It's being widely described as a kind of possible either endgame for the Administration there or… has he reached out to the people that… the actual opponents in the street?  Or what's he doing while he's there? Spokesman:  he continues to be there talking to all the Togolese stakeholders, as we said, civil society, diplomatic corps, the presidents [?], and his message is the same to all, which is a call for calm, encouraging dialogue to resolve outstanding issues and advocate for the acceleration of the country's reform agenda." On August 23, after the French Mission to the UN's deputy ambassador Anne Gueguen said "we condemn all violence," Inner City Press twice asked her if France condemns, or is in any way concerned by, Togo shooting and killing protesters. Video here. She declined to answer; the transcript the French Mission put out omitted not only Inner City Press' Togo questions but even Gueguen's answer on Yemen. We'll have more on this. From the UN's August 22 transcript: Inner City Press: yesterday, I'd asked you about this crackdown in Togo, and I wanted to know whether… you said, you know, you were looking for something or the UN was monitoring. Spokesman:  No, I…Inner City Press: How many people do you think were killed in it? And are there any… there've been… some people have called for people to flee to Ghana and other nearby questions.

Spokesman:  I don't, I wish I had something for you, but I don't have anything on Togo for you today.

  Nor by the end of the day, nothing. UN August 21 transcript here: Inner City Press: Togo, as you may have seen, there’ve been major protests against the now 50-year rule of the same family, and several protesters were killed.  The Government says two, the opposition says seven.  I’m wondering, you know, you have an office on West Africa.  What is the UN… are they following this?  Do they intend to…

Spokesman:  We are following it.  I don’t have any language on Togo right now, but we’ll see what we can get.

   Five hours later, nothing. This is a trend, and not only in Cameroon. When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres earlier this summer did a photo op (Periscope here) and meeting with Gabon's Ali Bongo, who along with his father Omar have consecutively ruled Gabon since 1967, it began a full 15 minutes late. Not because Bongo was picking up another dubious award on the sidelines of the sometimes dubious Ocean Conference (see here), but because Guterres had another, unlisted visitor. It was, Inner City Press saw, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the UN, presumably about the standoff with Qatar. Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric has repeatedly said Guterres is not involved. We'll have more on this. On Bongo, he stayed upstairs for 45 minutes and then left with the media he'd brought in, in a caravan of vehicles with a police escort. Periscope viewers told Inner City Press Gabonese were protesting Bongo, who they call a killer, in front of the Peninsula Hotel. Now Jean Ping is calling for UN action, saying pointedly that he "cancelled plans to visit the United Nations and meet with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. 'I don’t need to be just received. But I have the impression that (anything beyond that) is a long way off because of the system.'" Reuters neglects to note that Ping was not only a chair of the African Union, but a President of the UN General Assembly. Then again, Reuters is barely reporting on the UN bribery trial of one of Ping's successors as PGA, John Ashe. We'll have more on this. Ali Bongo, fresh off this award(s) in New York, unilaterally suspended the media Echos du Nord, here. The UN itself evicted (audio) and still restricts Inner City Press, and when Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who did it, about Gabon including as relates to the closed door briefing of Francois Fall of UNOCA set up in Gabon, Dujarric's response was about the sports team the New York Mets. This is today's UN.
Watch this site.  Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric declined to offer any explanation of the differences. As noted, under Ban Ki-moon he had Inner City Press thrown out of the UN Press Briefing Room and UN, where it is still restricted even as the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe UN bribery case it was covering is coming to trial. Is the UN reforming? Watch this site.



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