d'Ivoire, UN Defers to Gbabgo's Forces, Certified
January 12, updated -- In Cote
d'Ivoire, the UN is relying of the
forces of Laurent Gbagbo to protect civilians, even as it said that
Gbagbo's forces have ambushed and shot at UN peacekeepers.
on Wednesday asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky if the UN, which has
certified Alassane Ouattara as the President, views Gbagbo's forces
as “the government” or as rebels, and to compare this situation
to other countries like Sudan in which UN peacekeepers work with and
transport government officials, even if like Ahmed Harun they have
been indicted for war crimes.
to make any comparison, saying instead that the UN need to have a
“channel of communication” with Gbagbo's forces. But the UN's
military spokesman in Cote d'Ivoire, Lt. Col. Rais Shakib. has said
that Gbagbo's “security forces always have the first line of
responsibility against wrongdoers.”
asked Nesirky, doesn't this imply that the UN views Gbagbo as the
government? Because rebels and non-state groups are not assigned such
“first line responsibility against wrongdoers” by the UN.
answered this question, but it will continue to be raised. What are
the other countries on earth where the UN had deemed a force in power
to be illegitimate, and how then does the UN work with such an
UN's Ban: why rely on Gbagbo if UN certified as illegitimate?
The UN usually
recognizes whatever regime is in
power, whether or not elections have been held. What message is the
City Press also asked Nesirky about the UN “hot line” which
did not answer Abidjan residents' emergency calls. Nesirky claimed
the hot -- or it is cold? -- line is working well, and said he would
look into what its hours of operations are. Watch this site.
of 3:38 pm -- UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq has just told the
Press that the hot line "is manned 24 hours a day." Apparently,
the UN is taking issue with the
New York Times, which quoted Abidjan residents "repeatedly calling
a United Nations emergency hot line for help, and getting no answer."
So will the UN be asking for a correction or retraction?
transcript of January 12:
Press: On Côte d’Ivoire, I wanted to ask about this report
that during the attack that the UN turned back from, that even when
residents called this UN hotline that they got no answer at all, and
that the Lieutenant Colonel Rais Shakib said that it’s really up to
Gbagbo’s forces to be going after the wrongdoers. It seemed from
what you had read out, you are alleging that the Gbagbo forces are
some of the wrongdoers themselves…
Nesirky: I’m not alleging, Matthew, I’m telling you.
Press: Okay, then why is the Force Commander there saying that
it’s up to the Gbagbo force to protect civilians, when you’re
saying that the Gbagbo forces are shooting at the UN? It doesn’t
seem to make sense.
Because those security forces are the forces on the ground, Ivorian
forces that are on the ground. They are the Government forces on the
ground in Abidjan and elsewhere. That’s the first thing. On the
hotline, I know that that hotline, which worked extremely well during
the election period, is still working extremely well. And I know
that people are there taking calls — this is primarily to do with
human rights, and being able to report human rights abuses or reports
of human rights abuses.
Press: Is that number open at night? I’m sure you’ve seen
The [ New York] Times story that says that scores of residents called
and got no answer.
To my knowledge, it’s open long hours. I need to check exactly
what the hours are. [He later said the human rights office in UNOCI
confirmed the hotline is manned 24 hours a day.]
Press: I guess it’s just to clarify — I’m just trying to
understand — because given the quote by this Rais Shakib, that it’s
up to the Gbagbo forces essentially – I understand that you’d
want them to protect civilians – but if you’re not alleging, I
guess saying that they’re among the wrongdoers, in terms of
carrying out this protection of civilians mandate, is it reasonable
to say, as the Force Commander there does, that the UN is relying on
the Gbagbo forces to provide this protection?
The primary responsibility for security in the country rests
with the security forces of the country. That’s fairly clear. And
the Mission has a mandate indeed to seek to protect civilians
wherever it can. And that’s what it tries to do.
Press: Just one more, because I want to try to understand this. This
seems to be now a country where the security forces are
controlled by a Government that the UN has deemed to be illegitimate.
It seems that you – Mr. [Alassane] Ouatarra is the President;
therefore. Gbagbo is not the President; therefore, the security
forces are not legitimate. Is there – I’m interested to know if
there’s other countries where the UN deems those in power not to be
legitimate? Given that, doesn’t it change the UN’s usual
deference to security forces?
Again, there’s no point in trying to draw parallels between
countries. Let’s stick with Côte d’Ivoire. And there, as I
say, those forces – the gendarmerie, the Republican Guard and the
Armed Forces – are the Government forces on the ground. They are
the ones — for the military, for the gendarmerie and for the
Republican Guard — we obviously need to be able to work with them
operationally, because they do have the primary responsibility for
security in their own country.
Press: But it seems almost like a rebel force that controls
territory? Or are they viewed as the Government?
Well, the point here is to be able to have a channel of
communication to those forces, to be able to ensure that incidents
like the one I referred to don’t occur.
* * *
as UN Retreats from Gbagbo Turf, Talks Tough in NY
11 -- While at the UN in New York the new Ambassador
of Alassane Ouattara says the UN is ready
to “be firm” to remove
Laurent Gbagbo from power, in Abidjan the UN peacekeepers drove
from a crowd of Gbagbo supporters, leaving behind four civilian UN
employees who were then disappeared.
asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky on January 11 about an incident the
previous day, in which the UN “withdrew” from a neighborhood with
Gbagbo supporters in it. What are the UN's rules of engagement? How
can the it protect civilians if it retreats in this way?
In Côte d’Ivoire, there’s this report of the
peacekeepers retreating, as some headlines put it, or turning around,
leaving a neighborhood described as being under Gbagbo’s loyalist
security concerns. Can you say, is that true, and what are the terms
of engagement, and are they going to return to this area? Or is that
an area they’re no longer policing or able to protect people in?
Well, generally, obviously the Mission has a mandate
to protect civilians, and has been regularly patrolling. It also has
to exercise discretion where necessary. I can tell you that,
referring to an incident or an instance on 10 January — in other
words, yesterday — this was a logistics convoy from the Mission
that comprised four civilian trucks, and it was stopped at the
checkpoint near the American embassy on its way to re-supply the Golf
Hotel in Abidjan. And then a few minutes later, three vehicles with
some 20 defense and security force, FDS [Defence and Security Forces]
elements, arrived at the location. And then a crowd of several
hundred, which included five additional vehicles with 50 people from
the FDS, the police and the gendarmerie, and then four civilians who
were part of this convoy were taken into custody. And then, in the
meantime, the crowd started looting the items from the vehicles. The
peacekeepers, the UNOCI elements, left to bring reinforcements, and
when they returned the three civilian trucks and the four drivers
Choi Young-jin with peacekeepers, retreat &
legislative elections not shown
UNOCI is, as I’ve been informed, is in direct
contact with the FDS leadership to ascertain their whereabouts and
the mission is investigating the incident and is also putting in
place measures to try to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring
in the future.
They said 13 trucks, that seems to add up, it sounds like
[inaudible] the incident that’s being --
I’m telling you – this is from the Mission. Okay?
it's NOT okay.
Watch this site.
* * *