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At UN on Cote d'Ivoire, As Council Meeting Called, Gbagbo Spin, Questions Dodged

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 3, updated -- As in Cote d'Ivoire the Laurent Gbagbo dominated Constitutional Council threw out the voting results announced yesterday by the Electoral Commission, sources in the UN told Inner City Press on Friday morning that the Security Council would have an emergency session.

  Immediately running to the Council, UN interpreters were seen assembling. But an e-mail request for confirmation sent before noon to this month's Council presidency, the US Mission to the UN, had been not returned as of 1 pm.

  A Tribunal prosecutor who was supposed to meet Friday morning with French Ambassador Gerard Araud told Inner City Press that meeting had been canceled, “for this.” With this and other confirmations, the meeting was reported on Twitter @InnerCityPress (click for updates)

  A diplomat from the Cote d'Ivoire Mission to the UN came to the Council stakeout, and pitched to Inner City Press the view that the voting in the North of Cote d'Ivoire had been “rigged by the Forces Nouvelles” rebels.

With the meeting still not starting, reportedly until 3 pm, Inner City Press ran to the UN's noon briefing to ask UN Spokeperson Martin Nesirky what the role of UNOCI and SRSG Choi had been in the North of Cote d'Ivoire. The question was not directly answered.

Update of 2:25 pm -- with SRSG Choi having belatedly (and long windedly) issued the UN's count, that “Candidate Ouattara is the winner,” the new buzz, from multiple sources, is that no in-person Security Council meeting will be held. Rather, a press statement (or even just “elements to the press”) is being circulated to Council members, and may soon be issued. This requires read-out on camera at the Security Council stake out - and SHOULD require some Q&A. Watch this site.

Update of 3:57 pm -- now the Gbabgo administration has threatened to throw Mr. Choi (and ONUCI?) out of the country...
Some ask, what message did the Security Council's failure to meet send? And, why DIDN'T the Council meet earlier today?

UN's Ban and Gbagbo, monitoring of North & response not shown

On November 30, Inner City Press had asked UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: Côte d'Ivoire. There is a report that an associate of President [Laurent] Gbagbo has asked SRSG [Special Representative] Choi [Young-jin] for some kind of -- I don’t know if it’s within the power of Mr. Choi — but for a recount. Has somehow expressed an intention to challenge the results from three regions of Côte d'Ivoire on Sunday’s election? Is that something that the UN can confirm, and what does it think of that request, if it is aware of it, by Mr. Gbagbo?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Well, in terms of rumours, we’re aware that there have been a number of rumours, including ones that we believe have been spread to cause panic or unrest in the area. At this stage, as you know, no results have been announced. We would note that several rumours are deviating attention from serious matters. It would be the role of the UN mission, ONUCI, to confirm those as they come up. But at this stage, what I want to point out is, I’d like to stress the points made by the Secretary-General in his statement yesterday afternoon, where he did urge the candidates and parties to abide by the law in the resolution of any disputes related to the electoral process.

And the Secretary-General stresses that any disruption in the electoral process would not be in the interest of the people of Côte d’Ivoire, who have waited many years to reach a successful conclusion to the crisis, of which these elections are a critical step.

Inner City Press: The other day Mr. Choi met with the -- I will dig up his name — but with this close associate of Mr. Gbagbo. I just want factually, not rumour or not, has this meeting taken place?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Mr. Choi is meeting with a number of officials as his work progresses. And as we made clear yesterday, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Choi Young-jin, will continue, in the context of his certification mandate, all his efforts to safeguard the electoral process so that the will of the Ivorian people will be respected. The United Nations will provide its full support to the completion of the electoral operations and to the Ivorian peace process as a whole.

Then on December 2, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: On Côte d’Ivoire...I’d like you to confirm that the head of the elections commission actually asked two Member States in the Security Council for ONUCI protection to leave the country and that somehow ONUCI said this request, until it was made directly to it, wouldn’t be fulfilled. It’s something that’s been reported to people inside the Council. And the question is whether ONUCI was aware of a request by the head of the elections commission for ONUCI protection to leave the country and, if so, what ONUCI’s reaction was.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: As far as that goes, no, I wouldn’t confirm any of these specific discussions. What I will say is that ONUCI is providing protection to the head of the Independent Electoral Commission, and so, he is receiving protection, as are other people.

We'll see -- watch this site.

* * *

In Cote d'Ivoire, Elections Official Asks US & France for UN Protection, UN Slow

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 2, 11:40 am, updated 12:40 -- The head of the elections commision in Cote d'Ivoire was holed up in a hotel room, sending messages to France and the US that if the UN Mission ONUCI would provide protection to get to the airport, he would release the elections results and then fly to Paris.

This was being discussed inside the UN Security Council as noon approached on Thursday. UN envoy Choi demanded to know why the request for help was being directed to France and the US and not to him.

Inner City Press asked a Council source why Choi himself doesn't release the results he has. “He hasn't finished counting,” was the answer. So Choi and ONUCI are slower than the electoral commission?

UN's Ban & Choi, cut out of communications and slow on count

It was announced at the UN that new Council President Susan Rice would read a statement after consultations. Watch this site.

Update of 12:40 pm -- after publication of the above, the chairman of the electoral commission Youssouf Bakoyoko announced that Alassane Ouattara won the run off. It is emphasized, as a matter of courage, that he did so AFTER the Gbagbo dominated Constitutional Council had declared that his time was up. While some at the UN analogize what is to come to the Bush v. Gore case of 2000, others say that's a stretch. Ambassador -- this month, President -- Susan Rice read a statement and said she will take quesitons at her 1 pm press conference on the month's program of work. 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.

* * *

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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