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French Mission on Twitter Answers 1 of 4 Qs, Gao Report Up to UNSG

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 11 -- When the French Mission to the UN solicited questions on Twitter for its spokesman and political coordinator, Inner City Press submitted four questions, one of them days in advance to increase the odds of it being answered.

 But this question, about the documented sale of positions in UN Peacekeeping missions in Haiti and the DR Congo by Deputy Permanent Representative Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, click here, was not answered, even when re-submitted.

 In fairness, one of the four questions was responded to: Inner City Press asked (as it has before) "Will the report on MINUSMA shooting at demonstrators in Gao, Mali, go to UNSC and be made public? If not, why not?"

 To this the French Mission to the UN replied, "Gao report was commissioned by UNSG. He will examine it and decide on the next steps #FrPrez."

 Inner City Press asked a follow up -- "Is France concerned to see & act on report?" -- but this has yet to be answered. The analogy might be to report(s) on Darfur, which the Security Council does see and discuss, at least under other Presidencies.

  Not discussed or answered is the UN Peacekeeping mission in Haiti introducing cholera to the island and the ongoing impunity and lack of accountability to victims. Inner City Press asked the French mission about it, without answer.

 A newer arising issue was whether as the UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric answered earlier on March 11 the French Mission OK-ed the use of the Security Council televised stakeout for a 20 minute appearance on March 10 by Hillary Clinton to answer hand-picked questions about her privatized emails. Video here. This question was not answered either.

  Another questioner asked or opined about Saudi Arabia funding Islamic State or Daesh -- no answer, even more expected than usual given Suadi Arabia's recall of its Ambassador to Sweden for talking about its human rights record.

  Of the two questions about the UN mission MONUSCO not moving to neutralize the Hutu FDLR militia the French mission answered one, by a favored correspondent; a more funny response was proffered to a question about Claire Underwood on House of Cards, Season 3 (No spoiler alert.)

 A question about Mexico went unanswered; a question whether the French-led mission to Burundi this week will look inot the Cibitoke massacre went unanswered -- for now. Watch this site.

On Gao, after UN Peacekeeping shot protesters in Northern Mali, the UN commissioned a report which it said will be finished by the end of March. But will it be made public, or even be submitted to the UN Security Council which formed the Mali mission?

  Inner City Press on March 4 tried to ask the Security Council president for March, Francois Delattre of France, about the Gao report. Video here. But Delattre replied, for the second time in two days, "I have to run." Vine here.

 On March 5 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric if the report will go to the Security Council. Dujarric replied "in some form" and that the findings would be made public. Video here.

 So later on March 5, along with a question about a briefing about African Union cooperation which UN official Taye Brook Zerihoun told Inner City Press he had given in the Council, Inner City Press asked Delattre about the Gao report: will the Council get, or request to get, the report?

  Delattre this time didn't run but rather answered. He answered only the Africa Union question, video here. It's appreciated but leave the question open: what is going to happen with the report, with the incident and accountability?

  Tellingly, perhaps, the French Mission transcription of Delattre's press encounter included Inner City Press' African Union but not its Gao report question, compare video to transcript. We'll have more on this.

The UN Security Council speaks in at least four different ways: resolutions, Presidential Statements, Press Statements and the weakest form of action, "Elements to the Press."

  When French Ambassador Francois Delattre came to the UN Security Council stakeout on March 4 as Council president he read out "Elements to the Press about Mali.

  Inner City Press twice asked, Question on Mali? But Delattre for the second time in two days said, "I have to run" and declined to answer. Video here and embedded below.

   Now the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, has publicly mis-characterized the Elements to the Press that Delattre read out as a Press Statement or "Declaration a la Presse," including in a tweet at-naming the French Mission to the UN, which offered no correction. It was also e-mailed out (which should be similarly corrected) and put here on the MINUSMA Facebook page.

Update of March 6 - after this report, MINUSMA changed its Facebook page to say "Elements to the Press" - but left its tweet and email announcement uncorrected. Ban Ki-moon also issued a statement urging Coordination to sign.)

   Perhaps France, and ultimate MINUSMA boss Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping, would have preferred the stronger form, Press Statement, to Elements to the Press. But the are different, and it is the job of a Security Council president to make sure the two are not mistaken or mis-represented, particularly not by a UN mission.

  Maybe if Delattre has deigned to take the question(s) about Mali, alongside the three hand-picked questions he did take about Libya, it would have been more difficult to mis-describe the Elements to the Press he read out as a formal Press Statement.

  So will this be fixed? Or will the running continue? Watch this site.

  Here is what Delattre read, and questions he refused to answer.

"We heard a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali, Mr Mongi Hamdi, who gave us an update on the Algiers peace talks and the Agreement on Peace and Security in Mali initialed on 1 March 2015... We encourage the armed groups of the coordination to initial the agreement."

  Inner City Press asked, what about the MNLA not signing? But Delattre said, for the second time in two days, "I have to run" -- then proceeded to stand to the side of the stakeout, decidedly NOT running.

Update: French mission spokesperson Thierry Caboche has replied that the "Press Elements agreed by UNSC on Mali encourage Coordination groups, including MNLA, to initial Algiers agreement."

 It's appreciated, and added here in full - but since the Elements to the Press in the first paragraph cites that "Agreement on Peace and Security in Mali initialed on 1 March 2015 by representatives of the Malian Government, one of the coalition of armed groups Platform' and all members of the international mediation team" then never names the MNLA, the Mali question should have been taken and answered, alongside fully three questions on Libya.

    Inner City Press also asked about the UN's "independent" report into UN Peacekeepers shooting at protesters (who were angry about the UN using attack helicopters, but that's another story).

  Delattre did not answer about this report, which one would think like the report on the Tabit rapes in Darfur also covered by UN Peacekeeping through its UNAMID mission, would go to the Security Council.

  On February 26, two days before Delattre took over as Security Council President, the UN announced that "the high-level team mandated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to conduct an inquiry into the violent protests that took place in Gao, Mali, on 27 January is concluding an eight-day visit to Mali.

    “During this visit, the team met with the Malian national authorities, the authorities of the region of Gao, the national police and the civil protection service in Gao, representatives of MINUSMA, local leaders from the Cadre de Concertation des Notables de Gao, the associations who organized the protests on 27 January, authorities from the hospitals that received the victims, opposition parties, and several other interlocutors who could help shed light on the events. The team also spoke to the protestors who were injured during these events, and visited the bereaved families, to whom they expressed condolences.

  The team was "composed of three independent experts with extensive international experience: Bacre Waly Ndiaye (Senegal), Mark Kroeker (US) and Ralph Zacklin (UK)."

     Back on January 29, the UN said that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon  “deplores the incidents that took place on 27 January during a demonstration in front of the MINUSMA base in Gao town in the north of Mali. He is saddened by the violence that surrounded the demonstration and the reported death of at least 3 protesters and the injury of several others.”

   “The inquiry team will now travel to New York to present its preliminary report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It will present its final report by the end of March 2015,” the UN on Thursday said.

  What is the Security Council's role? Shouldn't the Security Council president for March, M. Delattre of France, answer this question?

   Back on January 6 when the UN Security Council met about Mali, Inner City Press waited and then asked UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous what he has been doing to protect the peacekeepers he is responsible for.  As is his pattern -- actually, his stated policy -- he refused to answer.

    It was Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, and not Ladsous, who on January 6 distributed his speech and came to take Press questions.

  Inner City Press asked Diop about the Mali talks in Algiers, and about the impact of Libya. On the latter, Diop said that “in 2012 the Mali crisis started when the war started in Libya and many Malian elements who were part of the Libyan army decided to come back home with the arms and ammunition. This started the destabilization of Mali.”

   Diop added, "In the southern part of Libya there is a group that has declared allegiance to the Islamic State.” (When asked to name the group he could not or would not.)

   The Libya talks have been indefinitely postponed. A Greek ship near Derna was bombed -- Inner City Press on January 5 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric by whom; he said the UN does not know.  The Free UN Coalition for Access has asked UN Peacekeeping why the speeches of Ladsous, unlike other UN officials, are not made available.

  Jump-cut forward to March 4, when after Elements to the Press on Mali and a read out on Libya, all three of the French Mission or #FrPrez handpicked questions -- France 24, Agence France Presse then Voice of America -- were about Libya. Inner City Press said twice, "Question on Mali?"

  Delattre smiled and said, I have to run, I know it is the second time.

  On March 3 Delattre used the same "I have to run" line to not answer a question about Burundi, where France is set to lead a Council trip on March 13, the draft Terms of Reference for which (which Inner City Press published here) do no mention the Cibitoke massacre nor opine if a third Presidential term would violate the Arusha agreement, which is cited.

 Later, the French mission put up the Mali "Elements to the Press," with no mention that a question about them had been asked, on microphone, and that Delattre had again said, "I have to run."

  We are compelled to note that UN Peacekeeping, run by France four times in a row most recently by Ladsous who also does not answer Press questions, needs to answer when its personnel shoot at demonstrators, as recently happened in Haiti too.

  But there are no answers. Nor on the sale of UN posts in the DR Congo and Haiti by Deputy Permanent Representative Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, here. We'll have more on this.


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