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At UN, As UK's Morrison Wins ICC Seat, Cathala Stayed In, Then Out, Nigerian Won, Press Excluded

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 16, updated below -- As the International Criminal Court's Assembly of State Parties left unresolved the scandal of countries trading votes with candidates found unqualified, on Friday afternoon UK candidate Howard Morrison was elected to the fifth of sixth open seats with 72 votes.

  Bruno Cathala of France, which offered to trade votes with a now withdrawn unqualified candidate's country, still refused to drop out. The former ICC registar, he got 45, less than the Nigerian candidate's 59 votes but still denying him, and Africa, the sixth and final seat.

  Just as the results were being read out, Inner City Press was summarily ordered to leave the room, from which it has reported the vote counts and lobbying for the last three days. The Director of the Assembly of State Parties, Renan Villacis, told Inner City Press to leave, claiming that the meeting was closed.

  Inner City Press pointed out that the electronic sign at the door did not say "closed," as happens at the UN when meetings are closed.

ASP sign didn't say closed but Villacis did. Ex-registrar not shown (c) MRLee

 Additionally, the back of the room was filled with non-governmental organizations -- their right to be present should be preserved, but there is no rationale for the press to be singled out. It is also entirely pointless, as the vote counts have been Tweeted by the NGOs and others in real time. The ICC and its Assembly of State Parties must do better.

Even in front of the Security Council Friday morning, numerous Permanent Representatives opined that France and Cathala should drop out. One said, "Now France is blocking Africa?" Watch this site.

Update: Mauritius then Cathala of France withdrew.  Diplomats exiting from Conference Room from which the ASP Director excluded the Press said the Nigerian candidate got 102 votes and the sixth and final judgeship at the ICC. There is a need for reform - 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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