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UN Upbeat on Cote d'Ivoire Despite NY Weapons Purchase, Open Air Polling 

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 29, 2010 -- Long promised elections in Cote d'Ivoire are now scheduled for October 31, UN envoy Choi Young-Jin told the UN Security Council and Press on September 28.

 Choi was relentlessly upbeat, that strongman Laurent Gbabgo and his two main opponents Alassane Ouattara and Henri Konan Bedie are all committed to a fair election without violence, “at least in the first round.”

Inner City Press asked Choi about the arrest in New York two weeks ago of Gbagbo colonel Yao N'guessan, trying to buy for $3.8 million 4,000 handguns, 200,000 rounds of ammunition and 50,000 tear gas grenades.

  That is a matter for the [Security Council] sanctions committee, Choi said. But doesn't weapons purchase by a president who has already overstayed his term draw the attention of the Council? And isn't the US, which calls it Ivory Coast, concerned? Or does the US only concerned with its new big embassy in Abidjan?

  France, a critic of Gbagbo, has drafted a Council resolution authorizing the deployment of additional peacekeepers for the election. Nothing about the abortive arms purchase; nothing about Gbagbo's invitation to Cote d'Ivoire of Sudan's Omar al Bashir, indicted for war crimes and genocide by the International Criminal Court.

 One problem at a time, apparently. But aren't they all connected?

UN's Ban & Choi, Bashir, Gbagbo & NY weapons purchase not shown

  Inner City Press asked Choi how he and the UN Mission intend to build shelters for the 3600 outdoor polling places which must, under the rules, be covered by October 31. Choi spoke of building tents, the nitty gritty logistical details for which the UN receives too little credit. Rare praise: remember it.

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At UN, Sweden's Hit & Run Human Rights Attack Lambasted by Cuba in GA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 29, 2010 -- As this UN General Debate reaches what some call its garbage time stage, when all the heads of state and attendant security are gone and the General Assembly Hall is largely empty, the deep fissures in the international community become apparent.

In a near empty GA on September 28, Sweden delivered a high minded speech, barely mentioning its own country but rather critiquing the human rights records of at least ten countries. The speech followed the more modest plea of Tuvalu, largely devoted to the right of Taiwan to participate in the UN's specialized agencies. A cynical called this Tuvalu “singing for its supper” -- saying what was necessary to keep Taiwanese aid following in, as Burkina Faso also did on Tuesday night.

At the end of the proceedings, new GA President and international man of mystery Joseph Deiss -- what are the outside business interests he mentioned but did not disclose? -- opened the floor for the right to reply. Most interventions were predictable.

Iran replied to the claims about three islands by the United Arab Emirates, a dispute between oil rich and well armed states which never seems to end.

Ethiopia issued a litany of complaint, including on behalf of Djibouti, against Eritrea, which in turn responded that the so called international community never enforced the boundary judgment it won.

Then Cuba, moving beyond the parochial, lambasted Sweden's “arrogant” attack on eight states in the Global South (somehow Cuba missed two). Most compellingly, at least to Inner City Press, Cuba said that the Sweden speaker had been asked to stay and hear Cuba's response, but chose not to. Even at the UN this passes for bad form.

Cuba's foreign minister, bringing the noise in this GA, Sweden not shown

UN Television panned over to the Swedish set of seat, in which two young staffers sat, looking outgunned. Neither of them chose to surreply. One imagined the Swedish speaker out to dinner, having gravlax and thinking big thoughts. But at the UN you have to engage. Score one for Cuba, on these grounds alone. Watch this site.

In Darfur, UN Prepares To Hand Over Bashir's Enemies for “Blood Money- Exclusive

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Must Credit

UNITED NATIONS, September 28, 2010 -- In Darfur, the Joint African Union - UN peacekeeping mission UNAMID is preparing to turn over to the government of Omar al Bashir five supporters of rebel leader Abdel Wahid Nur who have been “accused by Sudanese authorities of having committed crimes,” as shown by UNAMID documents obtained by Inner City Press.

  For two months the government of Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide, has demanded that UNAMID and the UN turn over the five, who “sought refuge in the Community Policing Center of the Kalma Camp for Internally Displaced Persons” after an outburst of violence in the camp.

  Bashir's government imposed a blockade on the camp, not allowing in food or fuel or medicine, and now seeks to close down the camp.

  A draft letter from UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari to Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti recites that Bashir's government “explained its position of principle that Sudan has the right to apply the death penalty as such a penalty is not illegal under international law and is part of Sudan's criminal code.”

  Nevertheless, Gambari writes, “without prejudice to its position of principle, the Government has undertaken to work in a co-operative manner with UNAMID... with a view to bringing the issue to a mutually acceptable conclusion.”

  Click here to see Gambari's letter, as obtained exclusively by Inner City Press.

  In the concluding paragraph of his letter, Gambari “propose[s] that the issue of the five individuals be brought to a conclusion... on the basis of the additional terms set forth in the attachment hereto... to ensure that the five individuals concerned are transferred to the relevant authorities of the Government.”

So what are the terms under which the UN, Gambari and UNAMID would turn over the five to Bashir's government?

Click here to see Gambari's and the UN's Additional Terms, as obtained exclusively by Inner City Press.

   Amazingly to some, under Gambari's Additional Terms, “blood relatives of the victims of the alleged crimes will be called upon to exercise their power to waive the death penalty and seek payment of compensation in the form of 'blood money' instead.”

UN's Ban shakes with Bashir, Kalma Five and blood money not shown

This in reminiscent of an incident in Geneina, multiply described to Inner City Press, in which UNAMID became involved in and even proposed the payment of “blood money” by IDPs to janjaweed who came into the camp beating up IDPs and demanding money for a person they said had been killed.

The “Additional Terms of the Government's assurances for the transfer of the five individuals from the Kalma CPC to the host country authorities” ends with assurances that “UNAMID's Human Rights Division” could visit the prisoners, and that Bashir's government will not “undermine UNAMID's ability to conduct its activities.”

But Bashir's government has restricted the movement of UNAMID peacekeepers and helicopters, as peacekeepers and civilians as in the Tarabat Market early this money lay dying. The UN's human rights divisions in Sudan have been accused by opposition leaders of failing even to come on a timely basis to examine the body of a slain Darfuri student.

   (The UN says it tried, but the Government stopped it -- even if true, hardly a basis for replying on the assurances in the Additional Terms. On September 27, Inner City Press asked a series of questions to Gambari, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier and Under Secretary General for Field Support Susana Malcorra, click here for article, here for video.)

In this case of the five, UNAMID would rely on “the Ajaweed traditional justice” and, again amazingly, that “the President” -- indicted war criminal Omar al Bashir -- “has the prerogative of mercy which he has confirmed he will exercise in the event that the death penalty is imposed on the accused.”

To many, this is a new low for the UN: accepting the promise of an indicted war criminal not to kill again as a basis to turn over more of his enemies to him. Watch this site.

 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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