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Morocco Claims Mauritania Broke Agreement, But It Has Waited Longer

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, October 20 -- The contest between Morocco and Mauritania got ugly, the night before they face off in the General Assembly for a Security Council seat.

  At Mauritania's election eve reception, complete with barbequed meats and rice but no liquor, a Moroccan diplomat told Inner City Press that "Mauritania broke a gentleman's agreement."

   The claim, denied to Inner City Press by Mauritania's Permanent Representative Abderrahim Ould Hadrami, is that went Mauritania switched from the West Africa to the North Africa group in 2005, it made an agreement not to run for the North Africa seat on the Security Council until all other members had run. Now, the Moroccan claimed, Mauritania broke the agreement.

  "They'll lose," the Moroccan said. "And they won't get it next year, when it's Egypt, or the next when it's Tunisia, or the next when it's Algeria."

  This brass knuckles approach was different than the other races. Pakistan's Permanent Representative Haroun told Inner City Press, of Kyrgyzstan, that it is a "brotherly Muslim nation" which was free to compete.

  Even on the eve of the vote, a Pakistan representative would only tell Inner City Press his country is "cautiously optimistic," a formulation which an existing Council mocked to Inner City Press when told.

  After being pitched by another attendee that Mauritania should win not only due to its African Union endorsement but because it hasn't been on the Counil since the 70s, while Morocco was on "in the Nineties," Inner City Press point-blank asked Mauritania's Permanent Representative Abderrahim Ould Hadrami about the Moroccan allegation. "That is false," he said. "There's no gentleman's agreement."

  He joked to guests that if they wanted dessert, they should go to the receptions thrown by Slovenia, opposed by Hungary and Azerbaijan, or Guatemala which is running unopposed but still threw a reception.

 From within the Latin American and Caribbean Group there was dark talk of gentlemen's agreements of who would run when which would soon be broken.

Abderrahim Ould Hadrami makes pitch in half light Oct 20, (c) MRLee

  Already campaigning has started for the vote a year from now, when for example Finland will face off against Australia and Luxembourg. Finland planned to play the "small country" card like Portugal did last year, a strategist told Inner City Press, except Luxembourg is smaller -- but also "too French." Finland stresses preventive diplomacy, and has already distributed free umbrellas. Game on.

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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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