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Togo Slow-Mo Swag Bag in Fight for Council Seat, OIC Eyes 4 Seats, Morocco Flexes Muscle

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 18 -- In the run-up to the October 21 elections for five new UN Security Council members, candidates are handing out swag bags but not answering many questions. For Africa there are three candidates for two seats: Mauritania and Togo, both endorsed by the African Union, and Morocco, which is not an AU member.

  On Tuesday night Togo threw a reception in the UN's Delegates' Dining Room trying to drum up votes. Inner City Press went, not to eat and drink but in order to seek comment. But after being given a swag bag, Inner City Press was told that the Permanent Representative would have to call back with his views.

  Earlier on Tuesday a diplomat long active in the Security Council mused to Inner City Press that Togo would probably hew closely to the policies of its former colonial ruler, France.

  Would that mean defending air drops of weapons in violation of UN Security Council arms embargoes? Blocking human rights mandates for the UN Peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara? We will wait to hear.

   Morocco seems sure that it will win on Friday, without any AU endorsement. Mauritania is working hard, its Permanent Representative Abderrahim Ould Hadrami telling Inner City Press which European countries support him, then asking that the list not be published.

  At least one of the countries, shaped like a boot, refused to confirm. The ballots are confidential.

  The Permanent Representative of a major African Union member told Inner City Press, someone ominously, that if Mauritania gets less than 53 votes, the "dissing" of the AU will be clear.

(c) UN Photo
Ban Ki-moon & Togo's PR Kodjo Menan, Oct 21 elections not yet shown

  Others opine with the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation's support, it is possible that both Morocco and Mauritania could win, leaving sub-Saharan Africa without the seat currently held by Nigeria. "Don't write about that possibility," one Islamic country's diplomat pleaded. But time is getting short.

  A Moroccan diplomat on Tuesday told Inner City Press, we'll see what you write about the Fourth Committee -- where Western Sahara is considered -- and then decide how to speak to you.

  If Azerbaijan pulls off the Eastern European seat, over Hungary and Sloveria, the OIC could pick up four of the five open seats, including Pakistan, predicted to win over Kyrgystan. Guatemala is assured of a win, despite having taken a reservation from the Group of 77's position of support for Palestine joining the UN.

  While mulling pieces of these other races, Inner City Press on Tuesday while Togo's party continued watched Togo's video. It is 30 minutes in length, beginning with photos accompanied by music. Video clips show hotels and dancing rituals, in slow motion, narrated in Parisian French and featuring tourists fishing.

  A hand out pitches Togo's decrease of its debt 82% from 2009 to 2010, and its peacekeeping service in Cote d'Ivoire, alongside France's Force Licorne. And so it goes at the UN.

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