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Amid Ivorian Chaos, UN Council Meets on 24 African Elections, Shrunken Horizon

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 10 -- Elections in Africa this year, and whether and how the UN should be involved in them, was the only topic agreed on for this month's forward looking or “horizon” meeting of the UN Security Council.

The discussion takes place amid the chaos of the Cote d'Ivoire election, where UN envoy Choi Young-jin declared Alassane Ouattara the winner, leading to protests in the Security Council by permanent member Russia.

In advance of UN political affairs chief Lynn Pascoe providing a closed door briefing to the Council, one Council member told Inner City Press that while UN technical assistance to elections is not viewed as controversial, being as involved as in Cote d'Ivoire would be a subject of debate.

Another member showed Inner City Press a list of 24 elections in Africa this year: including Chad (for which no request for UN assistance is expected, following the ejection of the UN peacekeeping mission last year),

Central African Republic (later this month), Democratic Republic of Congo (in connection with which the UN peacekeeping mission may be further slimmed down at President Kabila's request),

Egypt (Mubarak's son), Gabon, Ivory Coast (legislative), Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Liberia, Guinea, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, Seychelles, South Africa, South Sudan, Sao Tome, Uganda, Zambia and of course Zimbabwe.

In November, Pascoe's briefing included a wider range of issues, which some members protested. This time, the Bosnian presidency limited the issues in advance to just this one.

UN's Ban & Mugabe, UN electoral flubs not shown

A real “tour d'horizon” of issues threatening international peace and security might have included, for example, the violent protests in Tunisia and Algeria. One assumes that the UN's Department of Political Affairs is not blinded to that. But the Security Council will not be hearing about or discussing these issues.

Nor will the Council be discussing Sudan, even after 33 deaths in Abyei over the weekend. One member predicted the Council will wait for initial results of the South Sudan referendum. Watch this site.

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Amid Discussion of Cutting Cocoa Customs & Paying Gbagbo Army, UN Is Listening

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 7 -- In and around the UN in New York there is open talk about trying to cut off Laurent Gbagbo's access to cocoa customs in Cote d'Ivoire, or to paying bribes to his military to defect. But is UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon part of these discussions?

Among Security Council members the date of January 16 is named for when payment is due to Gbagbo's military. One Ambassador told some of the press that Gbagbo's military is being told that “the ICC is watching,” and that ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told the Council that not only Ouattara but also Gbagbo recently called him. France is described as trying to blockade cocoa custom funds to Gbagbo.

Inner City Press on January 7 asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if, during Ban's video conferences with his envoy in Abidjan Choi Young-jin the two speak on these topics. “The Mission monitors such developments with a close eye,” Nesirky replied. He added that “the Mission keep Headquarters informed... They assess every aspect across the spectrum.” Audio here, from Minute 18:40.

To some, this was a surprising answer.

UN's Ban & Choi, talk of cocoa customs & payments not shown

  When Ouattara called for a Special Forces action against Gbagbo and Inner City Press asked Nesirky about it, he replied that the UN favors a diplomatic solution. Watch this site.

Inner City Press asked Nesirky how the UN could conclude that the deadly fighting in Douekou was not related to the Gbagbo - Ouattara standoff. Rather than explain, Nesirky read out a note that a seven person team from Abidjan will go to Douekou with aid and to assess. Then what?

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 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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