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March 1, 2011: Libya

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With Le Roy To Leave UN Within 6 Weeks, Bonnafont As Next French Peacekeeping Chief, Sources Tell Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 5 -- On the day France was questioned in the Security Council about arguably violating Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 in Libya, the name of a French diplomat to replace Alain Le Roy as head of UN Peacekeeping was leaked to Inner City Press: Jerome Bonnafont.

  Weeks before Le Roy announced he will leave on or before August 23, Inner City Press reported that he would leave. At the time, the favorite to replace him was Eric Chevalier, an aide to Bernard Kouchner in Kosovo.

  Some pointed out riffs between Kouchner and President Sarkozy, and Chevalier's lack of military experience. One senior UN official said of Chevalier, “It would be a disaster.” For that reason or not, well placed sources in the UN North Lawn building say the new name is Jerome Bonnafont.

  Bonnafont has served most recently as French Ambassador to India, and before that as Spokesman to to President of the French Republic. Like Chevalier, he has no visible military experience.

Bonnafont at Men's Fashion Week in New Delhi, 9/11/09

  While in India, he puffed up France's involvement in Afghanistan. He has paraded at Men's Fashion Week in New Delhi on September 11, 2009. The sources describe Bonnafont as an “order taker.” But from where? Watch this site.

On Libya, After France Brags of Breaking Embargo, It Says Others Like Qatar Can Too: Russia “Expected” to Pursue

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 5, updated -- After bragging about air-dropping weapons to rebels in Western Libya, France now claims that others can step in. French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet was quoted July 5 that the rebels' “autonomy allows them to establish relations with external partners, including when it comes to equipping themselves in self-defense.”

  There is a UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya, on all sides of the conflict. Inner City Press on Tuesday morning outside the Council asked the chairman of the Libya Sanctions committee, Portugal's Permanent Representative Cabral, if there has been any move to consider if France's admitted actions violated the embargo.

  “We are expecting the Russians to raise it today,” Cabral told Inner City Press before going back into the Council for a closed door meeting, initially on July's program of work under the new German presidency.

Sarkozy glad-hands Ban, notification under Reso 1973 and top DPKO post not shown

  Since France's admission, Gaddafi's forces say they have intercepted weapons from Qatar meant for the rebels. With Qatar having just acquired the Presidency of the UN General Assembly, among other posts and events, things could get interesting. Watch this site.

Update of 11:52 am -- after the consultations broke up, Western sources said that French ambassador Gerard Araud argued at length why dropped arms into Libya is “notwithstanding” legal, and claimed there was little opposition. The Russian delegation told Inner City Press “we cannot agree,” and said they asked Libya sanctions chair Cabral to convene a meeting of the committee.

Cabral himself told Inner City Press that no meeting has been scheduled and he doubts that one will before UN part time envoy Al Khatib comes to brief the Security Council on July 11. We'll see.

Update of 12:52 pm -- At German Permanent Representative Wittig's 12:30 press conference about the Security Council's program of work during his month as president, Inner City Press asked him about the morning's closed door consultations at which France's dropping of weapons was discussed. He acknowledged it was discussed but said that there was “no agreement.”

So even a meeting of the Sanctions Committee on this issue was blocked? July 11 will be al Khatib.

* * *

UN Admits Kadugli Peacekeepers Refused Convoy Escort, France Downplays It

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 16 -- When the UN Security Council met behind closed doors Thursday about the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan, Sudan, much criticism was directed at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, whose troops in Kadugli reported declined to leave their base and do their jobs, as recently happened with the Zambian peacekeepers in Abyei.

After the meeting, Inner City Press asked DPKO chief Alain Le Roy about the criticism. He acknowledged that a UN battalion in Kadugli was “not willing to escort a convoy... there was heavy shelling.”

Moments later, Inner City Press on camera asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud if the Council discussed if a peacekeeper battalion declined to provide escort or come out of its base. According to the French Mission's transcript, Araud replied that

a question was specifically asked whether all the instructions had [always] been followed. Alain [Le Roy] told us 'yes, they have always been followed.' The only example - which was an example where the personnel was requested to evacuate, so it’s not a question of protection - was when the personnel hesitated for a few hours because of their own safety on the ground.”

  But Le Roy spoke about a battalion refusing to escort a convoy, presumably not only of soldiers. In fact, the UN evacuated -- or relocated, as UN OCHA put it -- international staff from Kadugli to El Obeid. In any event, refusing orders to escort a convoy is a “command and control” problem, as one Council delegation put it.

  Some skeptics wonder if the French Mission's and Ambassador's speed to speak on these issues is entirely attributable to a concern for protection of civilians, or might involve defending the performance of DPKO whose past, current and seemingly future chiefs as promised by S-G Ban Ki-moon seeking a second term are all French.

France's Araud & spokesman point finger, DPKO top post now shown

  Inner City Press asked Le Roy about the safety of Sudanese UN staff, who were not evacuated by the UN to El Obaid. Le Roy to his credit said that the UN was trying to contact all of them by radio, but had not been able to reach those in “downtown Kadugli because we have no access to downtown Kadugli.”

Some question how UNMIS can be said to be protecting civilians in Kadugli if it has “no access to downtown Kadugli.” Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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